The brouhaha over the level of fines imposed on Friday following the 2005 Buncefield oil depot disaster was not unexpected. This was despite the penalties being the largest ever imposed by a British court for an environmental offence.
St Albans crown court fined three companies a total of £5.38m for polluting groundwater, for health and safety law violations and for breaching the major hazards control (COMAH) regulations. The environmental component totalled £1.35m. Together with prosecution and investigation costs, the full bill imposed on the firms came to £9.43m. (more…)
America is lashing out in all directions in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP deserves many of the brickbats. The pasting that the company is getting in the US is a wake-up call to all operators of hazardous processes. The deeper lesson is that weaning ourselves off fossil fuels is a much larger challenge than we thought.
An early lesson from Deepwater Horizon is that major environmental disasters have lost none of their power to shock. Indeed the stakes look higher than ever.
The size of the spill is still well within global records. The death toll, sad though it is, is still small compared with too many other industrial accidents. Even the impact on nature, though the worst is yet to come, remains limited. Yet the US public and media has gone metaphorically ballistic. (more…)