Disasters sometime lead to good laws

14 Dec 2012

Many lawyers know the expression bad facts make bad law – usually referring to common law pronounced by judges.

I was thinking about how our environmental laws have resulted from some truly bad occurrences.

EPCRA was a reaction to the December, 1984 Bhopal disaster. While people are vaguely aware of Love Canal and certainly, here in Michigan we are aware of the burning of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, people are less familiar with Bhopal.

This might be somewhat natural because it happened in India.  Early in the morning of December 3, 1984, methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from the Union Carbide India Limited plant in Bhopal, India.  Reportedly, more than 3,000 people died and thousands of others were injured. This led to investigations and litigation and here in the United States, Congress passed EPCRA to reduce the likelihood of such a disaster here.

This raises the question of what, if anything, will happen in Congress in light of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.



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