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Excellent CSR/Sustainable Development “outreach” initiatives can be offset by one major operational deficiency.

The recent series of tragic oil train accidents wreaking havoc on communities reminds us that corporate citizenship also relates to operational efficiency protecting all stakeholders. 

The mantra might well be, “Do well what you’re supposed to do”. Accidents happen, sometimes tragically, but the most responsible companies are zealously  proactive in reducing their likelihood. Societal injury is, of course, the primary consideration, but corporate reputation is also very much in play. 

Of many examples, BP’s “fall from grace” in the CSR pantheon in recent years is one of the most impressive. A series of pipeline and refinery accidents — capped by the Deepwater Horizon explosion — all but wiped out a decade of BP’s well-received CSR initiatives.

Currently, US oil-producing companies and rail lines — as well as government regulators –would do well to recognize how critical this safety issue has become to public safety and public opinion.  There’s hope: After years of delay, new U.S. standards for transportation of oil by rail are expected to be issued next week.