Multinational Monitor

APR 2000
VOL 21 No. 4


The IMF on the Run: The International Monetary Fund Tries to Outrun its Critics
by Robert Weissman

Twenty Questions on the IMF
by the Monitor Staff


Unraveling the Washington Consensus
An Interview with Joseph Stiglitz

Globalization, Regionalism and Democracy
An Interview with Samir Amin


Behind the Lines

Against IMF "Realism"
- Brutal Banking

The Front
BHP's Big Mining Mess - The U'wa/Oxy Standoff

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Book and Video Notes

Names In the News


Names In the News

Call to Debar BNFL

A coalition of more than 40 organizations in March called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to ban British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) and its subsidiaries from holding contracts in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex "due to the firms' global record of repeated, serious violations of environmental laws, regulations and standards as well as a pattern of lies, deceptions and false statements to public and governmental officials." 

"In particular, BNFL's contract for a proposed nuclear waste incinerator/crusher at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) should be suspended immediately," the groups urged. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has said that he will decide by April 1 whether to move forward with BNFL's Idaho incineration contract. 

BNFL is one the world's leading nuclear waste reprocessing and plant decommissioning companies.  

But the environmentalists said last week that other nations have already acted against BNFL after a series of scandals involving the firm. Japan recently forced BNFL to take back a shipment of plutonium-based nuclear fuel because data about its contents was intentionally misstated. Due to similar concerns, Germany has suspended nuclear imports from the company.

In March, the Ministry of Defense in London began to review BNFL's contract to manage the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons factory. An investigation by Britain's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate concluded that the company had repeatedly falsified data about nuclear materials and lacked a high quality safety management culture. 

BNFL spokesperson David Campbell said that this allegation was "not true." "The Inspectorate factually stated that the facility is safe," he said. But he later also admitted that the company falsified data.   

"Based on the company's global track-record, BNFL is a band of environmental scofflaws who should not be allowed to deal with radioactive wastes," says Beatrice Brailsford, of the Snake River Alliance, which monitors the DOE Idaho laboratory where BNFL's plutonium waste incinerator would be built. "When you mishandle plutonium, saying 'Sorry,' as BNFL did in Japan, is not enough."  

Campbell called the petition "baseless."

Anderson on the Lam

Former Union Carbide Chair Warren Anderson is on the run, apparently hiding from attorneys who want to question him about his role in the 1985 gas release that killed thousands and injured hundreds of thousands in Bhopal, India.

Attorneys at the New York law firm of Goodkind, Labaton said a private investigator hired to serve a summons on Anderson at his residences in Vero Beach, Florida, and Manhattan, Long Island in New York has been unable to find him. 

"It is widely known that Anderson had residences here in New York and down in Florida," one of the attorneys, Kenneth McCallion, told reporters. "Unfortunately, attempts to reach him at his various known addresses have been unsuccessful."

In November 1999, 15 years after the 1984 explosion of a Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, Goodkind, Labaton filed a lawsuit against Union Carbide and Anderson on behalf of the victims of what is still considered the world's worst industrial accident.

The lawsuit charges Union Carbide and Anderson with violating international law and the fundamental human rights of the victims and survivors of the December 2, 1984 disaster.

According to the complaint, although Union Carbide was a party to all of court proceedings in India, it subsequently refused to comply with all efforts to obtain its appearance for trial by the Bhopal District Court, and the efforts of Indian authorities to secure criminal jurisdiction over Union Carbide have proved futile.

As for finding Anderson to answer to the civil complaint, McCallion is not optimistic. "We keep trying," he says. "We have people out looking for him. We have one organization we work with in situations like this. They have a network they work with in different locations in an attempt to find people. We have asked them to spare no expense and do whatever is necessary."

Conflicted Science

Nearly half of the drug reviews published by the New England Journal of Medicine since 1997 were written by researchers with undisclosed financial support from companies marketing the drugs, the Journal disclosed in February.

In a stunning admission, the world's most respected medical journal found that 19 out of about 40 drug therapy reviews violated its own policy of barring researchers with ties to pharmaceutical firms from writing reviews or editorials about company products.

The Journal prints original studies by researchers with company support and discloses the tie to readers. But the Journal does not allow those writing editorials and review articles to have financial ties to the drug makers because those encourage authors to interpret data and express opinions.

Angell told the Los Angeles Times that the Journal does not plan to change its policy, only tighten the monitoring of it. "It's a difficult policy to maintain because the connections between academic researchers and the private sector are so close and so manifold," Angell said. "Nevertheless, we believe the rationale for the policy is a good one. So we're going to soldier on."

-- Russell Mokhiber

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