Investor Environmental Health Network, Bridging the Credibility Gap: Eight Corporate Liability Accounting Loopholes That Regulators Must Close (June 2009)
The current financial crisis has highlighted the failure of the federal regulatory system to ensure honest accounting. The meltdown of trillions of dollars of value followed upon regulatory failures earlier in the decade. This report examines one group of regulatory loopholes that continue to render corporate financial statements and disclosures a highly approximate and unreliable indicator of value. Among other things, the regulatory flaws encourage companies to conceal damaging scientific findings from investors, fail to disclose estimates of the range of potential liabilities, and place undue reliance on litigators, in conflict with their obligations to protect privileged information. Drawing on case studies of disclosures about asbestos and nanotechnologies, this report offers practical solutions to bridge this regulatory accounting gap.
The chemical industry has given us many useful and lifesaving products — from aspirin to AIDS medication, from agricultural products to high powered computers. Yet the same industry has unleashed a plague of new ills on the biosphere: moving dangerous poisons into worldwide commerce, fusing new toxic substances with the fabric of life, and working to sell more of its products even at risk to life on earth.
This report is an examination of some of the worst abuses of the chemical century. Taken individually, the incidents are tragic. But viewed together they tell us that something is terribly wrong. While the industry’s incidents over the last century have been termed “accidents” or disasters, our analysis indicates that these are also human rights violations, resulting from the industry’s cost cutting, concealment, manipulation of science, and delays of precautionary action. The industry’s maneuvers often amount to hidden violence against thousands of victims.
This report takes a fresh look at some of the major chemical industry incidents of the past century through excerpts of previously published case studies. These are followed with brief updates and analyses of the human rights implications of each incident.
reassess community safety and security regarding the storage, use, production and transport of extremely hazardous chemicals. Throughout the US economy, thousands of facilities use and ship high volumes of these chemicals, threatening populous communities near to facilities and transit routes where chemical releases can happen. Most chemical incidents to date have involved accidental releases of chemicals to the environment.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 made apparent that chemical sites around the US could also be targets of terrorists wishing to intentionally harm people and property. While hiring more security guards at these sites may safeguard against some threats, the truth is that these facilities are often so vulnerable that only sharply reducing or eliminating the presence of extremely hazardous substances can truly protect against intentional assaults.