Corporate Transnational Environmental Crime

According to Simon [38] corporate environmental crime has a negative impact on developing nations. Simon argues large U.S.-based corporations often engage in the illegal dumping of toxic waste, both in the U.S. and abroad. The industries noted for being responsible for 60% of all corporate offenses prosecuted by the Department of Defense between 1974 and 1976 are petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and automobile manufacturing [39]. The advanced nations generate 400 million tons of toxic waste annually, 60% of which comes from the U.S. [40].

There is a high cost associated with disposing of waste in the U.S. The U.S. EPA requires companies to provide onsite disposal facilities for toxic waste, which costs approximately $30 million and takes years to construct. Therefore, it is appealing to these companies to export their waste to Third World nations where the toxic waste may be disposed of for as little as $20 a ton [38]. Simon [38] contends bribes are taken by Third World government officials to establish toxic waste dumps in their countries.

In response to the growing problem of developing nations being the depositories of hazardous waste, representatives of 117 nations gathered in Basel, Switzerland in 1989 to develop a treaty addressing the issue of toxic waste exportation. The Basel Convention calls for signing nations to accurately label all international waste shipments, in order to stop waste shipments to nations that have banned the toxic substance. However, there are several loopholes. One is that the treaty does not address waste shipments intended for recycling [37]. Therefore, thousands of tons of waste are disguised as recyclable waste and shipped across several international borders.

When examining the issue of toxic waste dumping from a cost/benefit perspective, some argue that it makes economic sense for developed nations to pay developing nations to deposit their hazardous waste. It has even been stated by Lawrence Summers, a World Bank official, that the lives of those in

Third World countries are considered of less value than those of the First World [41]. To suggest that the lives of those in the Third World are of less value than those in the First World is an extremely racist perspective. This type of rhetoric by high level government officials is not only damaging to international relations, it benefits no one. Both of these arguments make little sense from a human rights or economic standpoint. Not only does the mass influx of hazardous waste to developing nations pose immediate and long-term health problems to local people, these toxic waste products harm the very environment from which MNCs are interested in extracting resources. Additionally, developing nations have less technological capacity to safely store and/or dispose of toxic waste products. Therefore it is even more harmful for developing nations to accept toxic waste than it is for developed nations to dispose of the material.

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