BP Deepwater Horizon and Bhopal, the contrast

With fines and compensation now amounting to $11.8bn and further actions pending against BP for the Deepwater Horizon spill in April 2010, it is interesting to reflect on the equivalent actions arising from the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

In that case, see Union Carbide’s website, the damages for the devastation caused were assessed in 1989 by the Supreme Court of India at $470m. That is; less than 1/20th of the cumulative awards to date against BP from US courts and regulators.

The death toll is a crude measure at best: however, in the Bhopal disaster it is believed that approximately 3,800 people died and several thousand other individuals experienced permanent or partial disabilities.

In contrast, these are the names of the 11 men who died on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Jason Anderson; Dale Burkeen; Donald Clark; Stephen Curtis; Gordon Jones; Wyatt Kemp; Karl Kleppinger Jr.; Blair Manuel; Dewey Revette; Shane Roshto; and Adam Weise.

One cannot help but think there is an imbalance here. Will the international community ever achieve the maturity to act even-handedly when accidents occur, involving damage done by multi-national corporations to the local communities where they are operating and to the ordinary citizens who are living there?