Conflict with Financial Interests

With Aberfan, history repeated itself.  There was a conflict of financial interests versus people’s safety.  It would have been safer to have dumped the mine waste in an area well away from human habitation.  That would have cost more money.  There was a fear that if further tipping on the mountain was not allowed, closure of the mine would follow.  The mine did close eventually, but not until 1989 - one of the last Welsh pits to go.



2018, 14 August.  Genoa, Italy - collapse of the Morandi Bridge

At least 43 people died, many injured, some seriously.

Many years before the tragedy, concerns were raised about the safety and cost of maintenance.  

Italy's governing Five Star Movement dismissed fears that the bridge would collapse as a 'fairy story' while opposing repair work as a 'waste of money'.

An ambarrassing lack of critical sense.  A close echo of what happened in Aberfan.


British Petroleum’s (BP’s) ‘Gross Negligence’

(putting profit before people’s safety), led to Gulf Oil Spill – Sky News, 5 September 2014

A federal judge has ruled that BP’s reckless conduct led to the worst offshore oil spill in US history – a decision that exposes the oil giant to billions more in civil penalties.

BP was assigned the majority of blame for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill by US District Judge Carl Barbier on Thursday.

His ruling means BP now faces fines that are expected to total between $10.3bn (£6.3bn) and $17.6bn (£10.7bn).

Judge Barbier ruled that BP bears 67% of responsibility for the spill, while drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd was assigned 30% of blame.

Halliburton, which served as BP’s cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon rig, was assigned 3% of the blame. The energy services giant announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to pay $1.1bn (£665m) to settle plaintiff claims.

Eleven workers were killed when the rig exploded in April 2010, and millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf while BP scrambled for weeks to seal the well.

Judge Barbier said BP made “profit-driven decisions” during drilling that led to the deadly blowout.

“The Court concludes that the discharge of oil ‘was the result of gross negligence or wilful misconduct’ by BP,” Judge Barbier said in his written ruling.

“BP’s conduct was reckless.”

“These instances of negligence, taken together, evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks,” he wrote in a 153-page ruling.”


Recall delay of faulty cars – Sky News, 16 May 2014

The United States government has fined General Motors (GM) the maximum $35m (£21m) for delayed recalls of vehicles with faulty ignition switches. Thirteen people died in crashes linked to the problem, the company says, but lawsuits put the actual death toll at 53. 

GM has admitted it knew about the problem for more than a decade. It did not recall the vehicles until 2014, even though car-makers are supposed to report safety defects within five days of discovery.

The Detroit-based firm first spotted the problem during pre-production in 2001. It was not until February 2014 that it instigated a recall. GM engineers held meetings about the issue in 2005, but decided against a fix because it would take too long and cost too much money.

Finance before people’s safety !


Samuel Plimsoll campaigned especially against what were known as "coffin ships" – unseaworthy and overloaded vessels, often heavily insured, in which unscrupulous owners risked the lives of their crews.  Many people died.  He campaigned in the UK parliament for restrictions to be made law, but such an amendment was refused – by many Members of Parliament who were themselves, ship owners.  The public became aware of this dilemma.  Through pressure from the public, at least some of Samuel Plimsoll’s recommendations were adopted in 1876.

There are strong similarities to the Aberfan story.  The people managing an industry cannot always be trusted – sounds familiar?

The Plimsoll Line is now a feature on ships, indicating the safe loading capacity – according to what kind of water the ship is sailing in.  Samuel Plimsoll was buried in St Martin's churchyard, Horn Street, Folkestone, UK, on 3 June 1898. 

See - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Plimsoll 


Thalidomide – there were serious concerns about its safety before it was distributed, but these were hushed up. Too much money had been invested in the development of the drug, for it to be allowed to fail.  Reference the book Thalidomide and the Power of the Drug Companies, by Henning Sjöström and Robert Nilsson.


In many situations, people’s safety and financial interests often oppose each other.  We must remain watchful and not completely trust the people who are supposed to be looking after us !