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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Corporate Culture Destroying Lives

As oil leaks into the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen and members of the tourism industry are worried.

They should be.

Their livelihoods are on the line. As the oil edges ever-closer to the shoreline, some of it  has already reached delicate environmental areas.

The economic cost of this disaster is going to reach into the billions. The environmental cost is going to be terrible as well; the gulf coast is home to delicate marshlands, fishing and oyster grounds, and a ripe tourist industry.

Currently, British Petroleum or BP, has accepted the cost of the cleanup, along with the Coast Guard. They have been burning, spreading dispersants and deploying booms to contain the oil. The question however will soon be asked. Who is to blame? When the Deepwater Horizon exploded two weeks ago, 11 workers lost their lives,  and 5,000 or more barrels of oil started flowing into the ocean from a deep underwater well 5,000 feet deep. The deep wellhead had a safety device called a blow out preventer that was supposed to close the well in case of such a disaster, it failed.

It has also been brought up that an additional safety device costing only $500,000 could have avoided this disaster, a disaster that could soon overshadow the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

Transocean owned the rig, which was on lease to BP. BP, has now accepted all fiscal responsibility for the disaster after the US government stated that it would hold BP accountable.

The rig itself had been issued many safety violations in the past and there was no remote-controlled shut off switch, there was no backup plan if the self-automated shut off device did not activate. This sounds like a recipe for disaster. The main question however, is why do companies feel that its bottom line is more valuable than the livelihoods of millions of people, its workers lives and the environment.

Recently, they have been constructing a metal dome to block off the well and recently started using chemical dispersants that stick to the oil.  They have also been burning the surface oil, a technique that in itself is terrible for the environment.

This accident could have been avoided if the attitude towards these businesses had been different. It all starts at the smallest level.

As students we need to stop allowing large corporations to abuse their customers and abuse safety precautions to ensure a high profit margin. As students in Stony Brook we hear about and see this all the time.

Stories about cars being recalled for being unsafe and medicines and food making people sick are common. It is common knowledge that during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars private companies abused and undercut the United States, its citizens and soldiers for billions of dollars.

Wall Street companies bought and betted on mortgages that they knew would default, sending our economy into a tailspin costing millions of ordinary people their jobs.

As students, there are things we can do, we can vote and change the opinion or apathetic attitudes of people around us. Lets all make the decision to change our attitudes to all of this abuse. We can educate ourselves about our politicians and how they allow these things to happen, vote against them and make sure that this culture of indifference that exists in corporate America and puts all of us at risk changes for good. There are millions of people on the gulf coast who now feel the results of this corporate culture.

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