Letter To The Editor: Reader Uses 'Impolite Language' To Make Bhopal Point

Dec. 15, 2009

Dear Sir:
 
You picked a great topic and started out - I am sure - with a good intention.  But somehow you managed to overlook a most inconvenient truth. 

Dear Sir:
 
You picked a great topic and started out - I am sure - with a good intention.  But somehow you managed to overlook a most inconvenient truth. 

Yes, you do point out that, "Companies still blunder into serious accidents because they don't remember previous incidents."  And that is most certainly true.  But, your gentle treatment of the chemical industry should have said clearly and up front that we, in this country, seem to have learned nothing from Bhopal - and stand a very good chance of doing something equally stupid with HF, MIC or some other toxin capable of wiping out an entire city with one release if we don't wake up soon.
 
Why do I use such impolite language?  Take a look at the articles detailing an "incident" at Bayer CropScience - involving nothing less that a tank full of MIC only 80 feet from a pressure vessel that exploded. [
Officials identify man killed in Bayer CropScience explosion  and CSB Investigators Report Bayer CropScience Explosion Was Caused by Runaway Chemical Reaction]  OK, only one worker was killed, and no MIC was released.  That should be little cause for celebration.  It should, instead, be a clarion call for meaningful reform of how such toxic chemicals are used, stored and disposed of - BEFORE we have another tragedy like Bhopal.  My language is impolite because unnecessary death is impolite - and no amount of "feel good" editorial or hand-wringing after the fact can mitigate this.
 
The chemical industry will be a lot better off if folks like you quit being so polite and start using your articles to demand meaningful reform before the politicians come up with impossible regulations that do not really get to the bottom of the safety debacle.  Do not expect industry executives to move toward anything useful in the safety arena.  These folks view safety as an operational expense to be minimized, not as a very important responsibility to be discharged with the same attention to detail that financial matters get.  Executives, as a group, just don't get safety.  Editors like you need to.
 
Thanks for listening.
 
Charles G. Scouten
Senior Associate
The Fusfeld Group, Inc.

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