Corporate Evil

I knew it was bad. I didn’t realize just how evil the people running these corporations really could be.

Here’s an interesting Twitter thread with lots of info about the Bhopal accident and what we haven’t learned from it. There are lots of embedded images, so probably better to click through and read it all rather than try to unroll it.

Here is part 2

Part 3:

Part 4:

Hang the fuckers in charge.

And I don’t mean figuratively. I mean literally hang their corpses from the charred remains of the factory for gross and malevolent negligence.

Geezus christ what a horrible read. I live not far from a refinery my own self and that was just TERRIFYING.

Eh, I think the parallels to Bhopal are tenuous at best… Even if a refinery released a ton of HF acid, it’s not going to have anywhere close to the impact of the poisonous chemicals released from Bhopal. It’s just not even close to the same kind of danger, in terms of spread out, prolonged danger to the population. It’ll give you acid burns in sufficient concentration, and can cause cardiac arrest, but it’s nowhere close to the danger of MIC.

Mainly, the chemistry explanation in that thread is pretty poor… and some of the stuff, like “What if it got into the Delaware river???” is stupid. What would happen? It’d be diluted into entirely harmless concentrations.

Trying to say that a gas refinery is as dangerous as the chemical plant in Bhopal is not accurate.

This type of mistake raises my bullshit alarm. I know Bhopal was terrible, and some of what they posted was true, but getting this kind of accusation wrong by 2 orders of magnitude makes me doubt any facts in the thread that I didn’t know myself already.

The Bhopal disaster caused an estimated total of $4.1 billion in distress and damages.

Union Carbide paid out a total of $470 million (approximately 0.1% of that estimate)

The bigger issue is that the situation in Bhopal wasn’t really at all like Philly.

I mean… No one died in the Philly refinery explosion. 5 workers had minor injuries.

It’s silly to compare it to one of the worst industrial disasters in world history.

I think that’s all pretty clear in the tweets. The point was “this was a really close call so why don’t we learn and use a safe substitute for HF.” The Bhopal comparison was an example of the chemical industry being unable to self-regulate.

But it’s not really a good analogy, because HF is nothing close to MIC, chemically and toxicologically speaking.

At one point the tweet author says, “in some ways they are similar… In some ways HF is worse!”

But that’s not actually true.

Will HF hurt you? Of course, it’s a strong acid. But it’s also just an acid. It will burn you, and in cases where you are burnt by it bad enough (like, fairly large areas of your body exposed), it screws up the calcium in your body and you get a heart attack. But it also reacts with other stuff… like everything. Hell, my first encounter with it was a highschool chemistry teacher of mine, pointing out that they stored it in plastic because it dissolved glass. Even if it were aerosolized, it’s not going to stay in the air for any lengthy period of time, and this is what would prevent anything approaching what happened in Bhopal.

But by comparison, Methyl Isocyanate is an ultra deadly poison, which causes harmful effects in concentrations of 0.4 ppm, and death in concentrations as low as 21 ppm.

It’s just not the same thing. HF is used in a ton of chemical processes, basically anything that makes any compound containing flourine. But if you look at the kinds of deaths that have occurred over the years from it, it’s basically always (as far as i know), situations where someone has had direct contact with concentrated HF. That kind of exposure would never happen in a large area even if you blew up one of the tanks at a refinery. So it would never just float down over a town an kill everyone like you had in Bhopal.

The NY Times have an editorial questioning the use of HF today…