FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Liability Caps, From Oil Spills to Nuclear Meltdowns

As BP destroys our priceless planet, its lawyers gear up to save the company from paying for the damage. The same will happen-
–only worse—with the next atomic reactor disaster.

By law, BP may be liable for only $75 million of the harm done by the Deepwater Horizon.

Ask yourself why the federal government would adopt legislation that limits the liability of an oil driller for the damage it does to
us all.

Ask the same question—on another order of magnitude—about nuclear power plants.

Some lawmakers have tried to raise this cap so BP could be made to pay for the wounds they have not yet stopped inflicting.

By any calculation, BP did more than $75 million in harm during the first hour of this undersea gusher. That sum won’t begin to cover even the legal fees, let alone the tangible damage to our only home.

But “free market” Republicans have resisted raising the limit. So BP will walk away virtually scot free. All this will be tax deductible. So will the millions they’ll spend changing the name of the company, and dumping all those pathetic “Beyond Petroleum” pamphlets.

Now imagine a melt-down alongside the blow-out. See the Deepwater Horizon as a nuclear power plant. Think of the rickety Grand Gulf, a bit to the north, or the two decaying reactors at South Texas, a ways to the west.

Imagine that apocalyptic plume of oil ravaging our seas as an airborne radioactive cloud.

Feel it pouring like Chernobyl over the south coast, enveloping all of Florida, blowing with the shifts of the winds up over the southeast, irradiating Atlanta, then Nashville, then New Orleans, then Houston, all through Mexico and the north coast of South America, the Caribbean, then around again across Florida, through the Atlantic and all over Europe, then around the globe two or three times more.

The instigators of such a nightmare are currently on the hook for a maximum of $11 billion. Ask yourself why the federal government would limit the liability of a reactor owner for the damage it imposes on the public.

There’s a clear historic answer: In the 1950s, when the bomb-making Atomic Energy Commission wanted a civilian PR front, it asked the private utility industry to build commercial reactors. The electric companies refused, fearing that a melt-down could cost them everything.

So Congress passed the 1957 Price-Anderson Act, limiting a reactor owner’s liability to a paltry $560 million. They promised that private insurers would soon take up the risk.

A half-century later, taxpayers—and victims—are still on the hook. The feds have raised the liability limit to an utterly inadequate $11 billion.

A melted reactor today would do that much harm in the first hour. By any sane calculation, the non-radioactive Deepwater Horizon has long since done more.

According to the comprehensive study just published by the New York Academy of Sciences, the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl has killed some 985,000 people. The governments of Belarus and Ukraine estimate more than $500 billion in damages just to their countries alone.

Reactor advocates say with a corporate sneer that no such accident is possible in the United States. That’s exactly what those Bumbling Petro-criminals said before they erupted this gusher.

The current “Climate Bill” would use billions of your taxpayer dollars to fund new nukes all rigged up with all those ancient liability caps. Like Deepwater Horizon, the owners of these “advanced” reactors not yet built will be liable for virtually nothing.

Before tomorrow’s radioactive cloud follows today’s oil-soaked plume…before the next melt-down follows this blow-out…we need a green-powered Earth.

We have no choice. Our economy, our planet, our bodies cannot handle more public-funded corporate-imposed suicide.

HARVEY WASSERMAN, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com

WORDS THAT STICK

 

More articles by:

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail