Two men, have presided over some of the worst ecological disasters in global history. The firms they lead are responsible for contaminating water supplies used by millions; decimating whole fishing and tourism industries; violating public health safety rules costing lives and ultimately billions, if not trillions of dollars in medical costs; caused the deaths of their own employees, choosing profit over safety. Both of these men have been paid millions in bonuses for their accomplishments.
Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP who resigned in the wake of his miserable handling of the Gulf oil spill departed his post with an $18 million severance package. Hayward was forced out during the Gulf oil spill crisis that killed eleven oil platform workers when he told reporters, ” I want my life back”.
Gulf coast residents suffering from ailments attributed to the use of chemical dispersents want their lives back too. Dahr Jamall reports from the Gulf
Gulf Coast residents and BP cleanup workers have linked the source of certain illnesses to chemicals present in BP’s oil and the toxic dispersants used to sink it – illnesses that appear to be both spreading and worsening.
Dr. Rodney Soto, a medical doctor in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has been testing and treating patients with high levels of oil-related chemicals in their blood stream. These are commonly referred to as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). Anthropogenic VOC’s from BP’s oil disaster are toxic and have negative chronic health effects.
Don Blankenship, “The Dark Lord of Coal Country” and CEO of Massey Energy, a “coal company that he has turned into a national symbol of lethal greed”, retired suddenly in last month. After last year’s disastrous Upper Big Branch mine tragedy that killed 29 workers, in December, Rolling Stone did a profile of Don Blankenship widely believed to have prompted his retirement. Blankenship, like Hayworth, leaves Massey Energy with generous severance worth about $12 million.
Unless you live in West Virginia, you’ve probably never heard of Don Blankenship. You might not know that he grew up in the coal fields of West Virginia, received an accounting degree from a local college, and, through a combination of luck, hard work and coldblooded ruthlessness, transformed himself into the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the business and politics of energy in America today — a man who pursues naked self-interest and calls it patriotism, who buys judges like cheap hookers, treats workers like dogs, blasts mountains to get at a few inches of coal and uses his money and influence to ensure that America remains enslaved to the 19th-century idea that burning coal equals progress. And for this, he earns $18 million a year — making him the highest-paid CEO in the coal industry — and flies off to vacations on the French Riviera.
Just like Hayworth, Blankenship, a fierce proponent of mountain top removal, leaves behind a cost to the state measured by lives and immeasurable health care costs.
According to Hendryx, as coal production increases, so does the incidence of chronic illness. Coal-processing chemicals, equipment powered by diesel engines, explosives, toxic impurities in coals, and even dust from uncovered coal trucks can cause environmental pollution that could have a negative affect on public health.
According to Hendryx, the data show that people in coal mining communities
* have a 70 percent increased risk for developing kidney disease.
* have a 64 percent increased risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as emphysema.
* are 30 percent more likely to report high blood pressure (hypertension).
A West Virginia environmentalist and leading voice to prevent mountain top coal mining, Judy Bonds, has died at the age of 58 from cancer.