Triggerpoints: 10 catastrophic blunders of companies

Triggerpoints often lead to protest and uprisings. The next 10 disasters have caused a lot of critic, especially about the ethics of business. The scandals mentioned are so large that they led to a critical mass of protesting people: they got broad media attention and companies were put under pressure to undo or compensate their deficiencies.

1. Venom disaster Bhopal

The venom in Bhopal is known as one of the biggest industrial disaster ever. In Bhopal, India, in 1984, 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) were released from a Union Carbide pesticide factory. This event led to at least 50,000 victims with serious illnesses. In addition, the well-being of between 150,000 and possibly 600,000 was compromised, of which 6,000 later died as the consequence of the exposure. Thirty years after date (2014), malformed children are still born as a result of the disaster.

2. Chernobyl nuclear disaster

One of the nuclear reactors in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, owned by a Russian state-owned company, exploded in 1986. Radioactivity was spread across Europe and other parts of the world and mainly the first ten days the deposition of radioactive dust particles took place. The WHO estimates that among the 600,000 people who had a radiation dose due to this nuclear disaster, about 9,000 people died of cancer.

3. The Panama papers

A leak at the law firm Mossack Fonseca exposed 11.5 million documents showing how the rich of the earth, including many companies, protect their wealth from taxation. The leak embarassed many prominent people and businesses and led to resentment and populism.

4. IBM and the Holocaust
IBM collected for Hitler National Sensitive Documents from countries across Europe and America to help locate all Jews for Germany. As a result, IBM could provide better punch cards for concentration camps that were used to sort and categorize Jews. Thus, the automated IBM punch cards were efficiently and effectively deployed for the eradication of Jews in concentration camps. IBM also learned camp guards to use the equipment properly.

5. Shell pollutes Nigeria
In the Oruma village in Nigeria in June 2005, a major oil spill through Shell’s oil pipes took place which made fish ponds and farmland unusable. Envrionemnet protection organizations and the the affected Nigerians drew Shell to court. Upto date, Shell is confident that the recurring oil leakages are caused by sabotage, which can not be proven. In addition, there are legal proceedings against Shell against the violation of human rights by the Ogoni people in and around Oruma.

6. Fukushima Nuclear Disorder
After an earthquake in 2011, four nuclear power stations from Tepco in Japan were shut down. At first nuclear agency NISA estimated the accident a level 4, which was quickly increased to level 5. Foreign experts reported on March 18th that level 6 had already been reached. Greenpeace published a report on March 25th, which would indicate that the disaster should now be on scale 7, just like Chernobyl. On April 12th, 2011, the Japanese authorities stated that this was indeed the case. After three to nine months the radiation emissions should be under control. There have been no official reports yet that reported cancer deaths due radiation.

7. Softenon: Malformed Children
In the fifties, Softenon was introduced by Chemie Grünenthal as a sleeping drug that proved very effective against morning sickness in pregnant women. At the beginning of the 1960s, the use of Softenon caused the birth of malformed children. Regulation is still not well regulated, Brazil still has children with disabilities because the medecine there is prescribed for leprosy.

8. Blood Diamonds

Blood diamonds “is a term used for a diamond generated and sold in a war zone to fund a revolt, a war effort of an invading army or an army activity.” This mainly concerns conflicts in Angola, Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. The famous Beers diamond dealers in Belgium and others do not shy away to earn their income from blood diamonds. The Security Council has made several attempts to certify conflict-free diamonds.

9. Nike and Human Rights

Anno 2017, Nike’s still hasn’t improved its’ image by misusing the benefits (especially low taxes on its products) of so-called Free Trade Zones in low wage countries. Oxfam is still fighting for better wages, the right to trade unions, complaints-trust procedures, more respect for human rights and, in particular, termination of short-term contracts. The latter makes it possible for Nike to remove her activities from a region and leave the workers with nothing.

10. Volkswagen cheats with emissions
Volkswagen [and now also Fiat and Audi] is at risk of a billion fine because it has deliberately tampered with software that helps reduce emissions of harmful substances in their cars. According to the US Environmental Monitor, Volkswagen has changed the engine management of some diesel models in such a manner that cleaner combustion occurs only if the car is subjected to the periodic polluting measurement.

Of course, we have not been able to take many scandals, but these are among the most terrible misconceptions.

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