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Government Indifference

Government institutions are meant to be at the forefront in the fight to protect the environment from attack. This means that government is expected to at least refrain from activity which would be seen and proven to have adverse effects on environmental media. When government fails to do so, this constitutes a grave injustice. A prime example is a situation that has ensued in the United States.

A host of environmental groups in the United States have filed a lawsuit against the government asserting that it has failed to regulate military drills involving the sinking of old ships in the ocean. The ships used for the drills have been proven to harbour polychlorinated biphenyls, a combination of toxic chemicals which pose a danger to marine life.

One cannot help but wonder if the US government has not considered the consequences of its indifference when dealing with other state organs. This may be seen as creating a culture of impunity, which would encourage environmental offenders to engage in similar activity.

For instance what happens if a private company dumps such chemicals in the ocean, and when caught argues that the US navy engages in dumping toxic chemicals with no consequences or justification to plead. The necessity of the US navy to engage in such activity is also questionable. It is unfathomable that one of the world’s most powerful navies needs to continually engage in ship sinking as if it wouldn’t know how to sink an enemy vessel when such need would arise.

The indifference shown by the US government is quite unfortunate, and constitutes a gross injustice where the marine environment is concerned.

It also goes against due process of the law doctrine which the US subscribes to. In all civilised western democracies no person or institution is above the law. The lawsuit will be watched closely internationally, for the sake of the marine environment one hopes it will yield legally sound results.

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