Environmental Crimes and Health and Safety Law Research Paper

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Environmental Crimes and Health and Safety Law Violation

With the current changes in weather patterns, strange climatic conditions and other uncontrollable natural disasters, there has been a lot of attention directed towards the environment and the way people may be contributing to the degradation of the environment in small ways that is summed up results into the disasters that we see on daily basis. The environment is becoming unpleasant on an increasing trend each and every day, this is a cause to worry about for each government that cares to see the consequences of our careless handling of the environment.

There are also man's contribution to the insecurity that surrounds us on a daily basis since people no longer care for the safety of the workers that work in their industries and sadly to some extent, some don care even about themselves and the safety that may be protecting their very being. There is need therefore to look at the various forms of safety law violations, the consequences as well as how to curb this trend of violations. Environmental crimes can therefore be referred to as the acts of man that are directed or intended at harming the environment (Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Republic of South Africa, 2012).

There are various criminal enforcement programs that are focused on the people who involve in negligent or willful violation of the federal laws that pertain to the environment conservation. There are some central acts that are purposefully geared towards ensuring that the environment is taken care of and protected at the highest standards possible.

The Clean Water Act which aimed at controlling the effluence that is emitted to the water bodies and in effect protect the water bodies. The main target of this Act is the criminal industries and manufacturing bodies that may tend to bypass the laws and instead of using all the required waste water treatment chemicals before they emit the effluence into the sewer systems most of which end up in the water bodies.

The other well-known Act that deals with the regulation of the environment is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This is majorly to tame the rogue manufactures who do not want to pay for the cost of disposal of their environment degrading wastes such as the highly flammable and acoustic wastes. Most of the culprits to the breaking of this law do conceal the waste to be dumped together with other wastes by a dumpster at municipal sites.

Clean Air Act is yet another regulation that aims at ensuring that the air we breathe is not contaminated in any manner. The act has a wide spectrum that it legally covers ranging from the industrial emissions in form of smoke, to laboratory fumes and even the dangerous asbestos fibers control during construction.

There are other industrial activities that are also considered environmental crimes within the U.S.A. These include illegal disposal of hazardous waste, illegal discharge of pollutants to a water of the United States, Export of hazardous waste without the permission of the receiving country, interfering with drinking water supply, illegal importation of certain restricted or regulated chemicals into the United States, money laundering relating to environmental criminal activities. There is need therefore to have an environmental policy that will see into it that the above Acts are implemented and people are equally sensitized about the significance of environmental conservation and sustainability of the environment for a better future.

Environmental Policy and Sustainability

The sustainability of the environment is pivotal in the long run for ensuring a safe and habitable environment for all. The bitter fact is that, when the environment is affected, then everyone gets the effect regardless of the region, race, color gender and the all the disparities that could be considered politically. To ensure a safe environment, there was a necessity of having policies that can help maintain the environment and make it safe, hence the introduction of the Environmental Justice.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1998) defines Environmental Justice as "The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Fair treatment means that no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies."

From the above, it is worth noting that the fundamental pursuit of the policy was and is not to find whom to blame for the environmental degradation and pollution but to find the most adversely affected areas and those that have the potentiality to such degradation, then identify the alternative to such degradation and mitigate against them.

One example where the Environmental Justice policy came in was in the recent pollution where there was a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by the BP Company. It is one of the policies concerning environment that was used to compel the company to take responsibility to stop the spill and clear the spill in the gulf.

Instances of environmental law breaking

With the world entering to the "Urban Era" more than half of the population globally are now staying within the cities. Such population is growing where urban areas are always rising by 60 million people in a year. This movement of the people to the cities means that their consumption of products and services increases, in using more natural resources hence generating more waste, while in this situation, cities tend to be never equipped enough in dealing with this problem. Many urban waste treatment, infrastructure, transport, among others are always not suitable enough to deal with the current population levels, without even including the growing one.

Such urban development which cannot be sustained inevitably leads to the environmental crime hence negatively impacting on our oceans and environment. Problems of global warming, urban runoff, harmful algae blooms and plastic pollution are among the most serious environmental crime issues that affect oceans.

Global warming is always the one that has the greatest threat to coral reefs worldwide, this is because in increasing of the temperatures of the surface ocean, there will be coral bleaching and stress through ocean acidification, Goldberg, J. And C. Wilkinson,(2002). From the estimation of the scientists in 1998 alone, 16% of the world's coral reefs went under destruction by bleaching episodes. Of course, the main cause of global warming is the release of greenhouse gases, through fossil fuel combustion which is an environmental crime that many industries are prone to. A lot of focus on reduction of green house gas emission has been at the national level, though it has been unsuccessful in United States. Global warming is always a great threat to coral reef ecosystems as well as some other marine systems, Orr J.C. et al., (2005).

Huge volumes of household hazardous wastes, hydrocarbons plus large collection of other toxic agents are carried to the catch-basin daily within urban areas, flowing into estuary and reef systems when there is first rain. On top, the agricultural hinterlands that surround the urban areas burden the environment of the marine with the runoff of insecticides, herbicides and topsoil which is a great environmental crime people commit on daily basis without realizing (The State of the World, 2007).

Management of solid waste like the plastics at the local level as well has impact on coastal waters, the marine ecosystems as well as the environment at large. Majorly towns and cities from developing countries dispose their solid waste in dumps which are situated within the coastal zone, mostly using the waste to be the landfills material for the purpose of filling wetlands and lagoons, which is a serious environmental crime of the contemporary society. More often, there is no lining which is provided for these landfills, giving way for contaminated leachate to filter through the waste, ferrying heavy metals, nutrients and other toxins into coastal waters and other water bodies hence greatly endangering the lives of the users.

Industries and government tends to be guilty about this "end of the pipe" pollution. These industries discharge industrial wastes into the streams and rivers which sweep the pollution load straight into near-shore marine habitats. This result in lipid soluble heavy metals getting concentrated in the food chain of the marine, causing harmful high level of pollutant in the top predator's tissue which is a nother serious environmental crime (Kleypas J.A. et al., 2006).

The communities within the coast and along other water bodies often spill or dump their sewage effluent into the wetlands and bays, which add nutrient load in the water bodies. Uncommonly high nutrient level within such habitats are capable of harming corals directly with enhanced pathogen growth or favor the growth of explosive algal which destabilizes marine ecosystems, Tundi Agardy (2002).

Freshwater algal blooms are always from the excess nutrients, specifically phosphorus. Some of the excess nutrient…[continue]

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