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Müller, Simone M. (2018): Corporate behaviour and ecological disaster: Dow Chemical and the Great Lakes mercury crisis, 1970-1972. In: Business History, Vol. 60, No. 3: pp. 399-422

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The discovery of dangerously high levels of mercury in the Great Lakes from industrial wastewater discharge severely shook the United States and Canada in 1970. Emergency actions covered industrial shutdowns, fishing bans and accelerated monitoring programmes. Charges against local chlor-alkali businesses, such as Dow Chemical, became the first instances of green-collar crime in the context of modern environmentalism in North America. At the same time, the legal, scientific and political management of the crisis foreshadowed the difficulties victims, prosecutors and polluters would face more generally in the field of environmental crime in the future. This contribution on Dow Chemical and the Great Lakes mercury crisis extrapolates the ambiguities inherent to ecological disaster and corporate behaviour, and encourages scholars to situate their analysis within a framework of scientific uncertainties and legal loopholes.

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