Industrial Waste

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A powerful economic equation drives the global trade in poisons: mounting piles of hazardous waste, a shrinking supply of disposal sites and exorbitant profits for people who can get rid of it legally or illegally. Blocked by increasing government regulation and local opposition to disposal sites, the stream of waste constantly searches for new outlets…

Introduction


Both criminals and legitimate entrepreneurs sense handsome profits from this excess of hazardous waste, from steering a flow of harmful substances along the path of least resistance toward what they hope will be a final resting place. "I'd slash my wrists if I didn't think that there is enough greed in the world to find someone to take Philadelphia's trash," said one official of that city (Perks, 1986).
All too often, however, the waste ends up in poor communities, migrating within the United States from the industrial Northeast to the more rural South; or in Great Britain, from England to Wales. Similarly, on the world stage, hazardous waste from the industrialised nations frequently has a one-way ticket to the developing world. Some Africans have even equated the traffic in toxic waste to the slave trade, although the direction has been reversed: the toxic substances that the industrialised world wishes to discard now flow to the developing world.
More than 3 million tons of wastes were shipped from the industrialised world to less-developed nations between 1986 and 1988, according to the environmental organisation Greenpeace (Portney, 1991). Sometimes the deals were made with the approval of governments, sometimes not. ...
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