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7 Companies Polluting the World Without Consequences

7 Companies Polluting the World Without Consequences
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The only thing more horrifying than rampant industrial pollution is pollution without consequences. Yet, companies across the globe freely dump toxic substances into the environment and get off with minimal punishments, sometimes even walking away from a pollution incident without being held accountable. That leaves residents, and governments, with the bill for cleaning up potentially life-threatening environmental pollution, a process that may take decades. Take a look at some of the worst offenders.

1. Williams Energy

This company’s in the news this week thanks to a benzene spill near Parachute, Colorado. Williams processes fracked natural gas and managed to spill almost 250 barrels of mixed natural gas liquid, which inevitably made its way into the waterway. Two months later, residents are waiting for an explanation — and for punishments for Williams Energy. Lawmakers in the state have just addressed an outdated law capping fines at $10,000, but their actions are meaningless unless the state is ready to take action and actually levy those fines.

2. Northrop Grumman

The aerospace giant generates tremendous amounts of pollution in the course of its daily operations, including at a now abandoned facility in Calverton, New York. As is often the case with industrial pollution, initial evaluations of the site indicated something was going wrong, but now public health officials are realizing that the size of the company’s pollution plume may be much larger than previously estimated. Volatile organic compounds are saturating the groundwater, and no matter how wide and deep officials drill in search of clean water, they’re turning up more pollution. The Navy’s responsible for the cleanup bill here, but Northrop’s operations certainly haven’t been limited to this site.

3. General Electric

It took 30 years, but GE is finally being called to task for its extensive pollution of the Hudson River. The fight over GE’s pollution was one of the seminal battles of the environmental movement, pulling together activists who used a variety of organizing tactics to force the company to take responsibility. Now, that victory is already ringing bittersweet, as the EPA is in the process of relaxing the cleanup requirements, relieving responsibilities for GE without ensuring the river will be safely restored.  

4. Dow Chemical

Dow’s polluting activities are legendary —  this is the firm behind the horrific Bhopal disaster, for example. But the company is spewing dioxins in waterways, among many other pollution offenses, and regulators seem to be prepared to allow that to keep happening. In fact, the Supreme Court granted Dow what amounts to a free license to pollute despite objections from activists, pollution victims and environmental defense organizations. Institutional support for polluters makes it hard for citizens to fight them, let alone hold them accountable.

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Photo credit: Monica McGivern

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1:19AM PDT on Oct 17, 2013

The article mentions Koch Industries use of lobbyists. We need to wake up that lobbyists, registered or not, are anti-democratic. They exist for the support of privilege and wealth.

Here in Australia we were leading the world with Carbon management, until our new government reversed all that. We were starting to get to grips with renewable energy, until the new government reversed all that. We subsidize the oil industry, and the mining industry. The lobbyists are becoming more and more powerful ... eroding democracy.

2:03PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Rio Tinto is also behind the unpopular effort to build a huge mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. This would decimate a beautiful area and cause havoc on the ecosystem. This EPA has come out against this plan but the company continues to push for the mine. Perceived profits ahead of all else.

8:32AM PDT on Jul 4, 2013

thanks for sharing

1:41PM PDT on Jun 21, 2013

"There is something fundamentally wrong with treating the earth as if it were a business in liquidation."
~ Herman Daly

5:44PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

The first thing we need to do is NOT reelect anyone who has been office more than 2 or 3 terms. We need to break up the good old boys network and get new, younger people in Congress. That will break the hold all these older people have on all the committees and at least slow down the lobbys. We will nevr be able to stop the lobbys because Congress gets to decide that issue. While all these good old boys, and girls, rule Congress, nothing will change.

4:14AM PDT on Jun 8, 2013


6:29PM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

not surprising

1:04PM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

Thanks for the info. Now we need to make sure that these companies do not get away with this. Where are the petitions?

6:13AM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

Start paying people in the poor nations: India, Mexico, South America and such and that would make a big plus for earth's survival. These countries have the highest population, do to their religious beliefs.

6:11AM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

I agree! Start paying people to not have kids and that would truly save us all.

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