In class this week we watched the documentary about the Bhopal disaster and how disastrous it was to the people and is still currently having a devastating impact today. This is because no one has cleaned up the site and toxins are continuing to be leached into the ground water. International laws have failed to make anyone take action. If this disaster had happen in the United States, who would have taken action?
The U.S. currently under the EPA has requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that regard safe handling, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. There are many more requirements for other resources like toxic chemicals, PCBs, and accidental releases. If the Bhopal were to have happened in the United States it would have fell under Accidental releases. According to the EPA under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, “Owners and operators of sources producing, processing and storing extremely hazardous substances must identify hazards associated with an accidental release, design and maintain a safe facility, prepare a Risk Management Plan (RMP) and minimize consequences of accidental releases that occur. EPA conducts inspections and reviews facility RMPs to verify compliance and ensure the quality of the overall preparedness, prevention and response.” As we saw in the video many doctors on site didn’t know how to completely treat patient of their pain since they didn’t know all the chemicals that had been leaked.
The next step after addressing issues of how the disaster happened would be clean up. In the United States the EPA has a couple of cleanup enforcement programs that protect human health and the environment by getting those responsible for a hazardous waste site to either clean up or reimburse EPA for its cleanup. One of them is the Superfund, “Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly known as Superfund), EPA finds the companies or people responsible for contamination at a site, and negotiates with them to clean up the site themselves or to pay for another party to do the cleanup.” Yet there are still many sites on the superfund list that have still not been cleaned up. Bhopal was and still is a tragedy and hopefully with better and more enforced requirements for safety nothing like this will ever happen again anywhere.