The Dow Chemical Company has a long, sordid, history of environmental crimes spanning many decades. It produced Agent Orange to be sprayed up on innocent Vietnamese people; it developed napalm into a lethal weapon of mass destruction; it has bribed officials in order to register banned, dangerous pesticides; and it has regularly poisoned the rivers and the air around its factories. After World War II, who do you think employed the Nazi scientistknown as “the Devil’s Chemist”, found guilty of “enslavement” and “mass murder” at Nuremberg for his role in the Buna factory at Auschwitz? Step forward Dow Chemical.
The Bhopal Medical Appeal´s, concern with Dow is its connection to the 1984 Bhopal Gas disaster and the ongoing medical catastrophe, and the separate issue of toxic pollution that sees, to this day, thousands of people drinking water heavily contaminated with highly dangerous chemicals.
The Bhopal Gas Disaster began on the night of the 2nd/3rd December 1984 when a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, released 27 tonnes of lethal gases, killing around 25,000 people and maiming over half a million others. The Dow Chemical Company merged with Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), in 2001, but claims that it has no responsibility for the ongoing consequences of UCC’s business in Bhopal.
Just one simple set of facts should explain otherwise:
In 1987, UCC was indicted on criminal charges of 'Culpable Homicide' and other serious offences related to the 1984 disaster, Dow knew full well it was merging with a 'proclaimed absconder'.
Dow was summonsed, by Indian court in 2005 and asked why it had not produced UCC for trial but the summons remains unanswered and UCC remains a fugitive from justice.
Dow maintains that UCC remains a separate business to Dow. But Dow owns 100% of UCC´s shares, elects its board and UCC´s current CEO is even a senior Dow official.
Dow applies double-standards in different places. It has accepted liability for asbestos related claims against UCC in the U.S., yet refuses to accept any liability for UCC's past business in Bhopal.
As Dow is busy 'greenwashing' itself with its Olympic and Paralympic sponsorship deals, families in Bhopal are still drinking poison every day. They are becoming very sick and their babies are being born with all sorts of terrible problems.
Poona Bai holds her son, Raj, who is three years old. Raj cannot walk and is visually impaired and has been like this since birth. Doctors offered no explanation as to why Raj was born this way but many other children in the area have been born with congenital defects. Poona was never exposed to MIC gas but her husband was and has health problems. The family live in an area where the water supply is contaminated.
Image credit: David Graham
The overgrown MIC plant inside the abandoned Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. The factory lies derelict some 27 years later. More than a fifth of the total area of the factory grounds were used as chemical dumps. These still lie under the surface soil, leaching poisons into local aquifers. Each year the toxins spread further out towards new victims.
Image credit: David Graham
"In 1984, leakage of poisonous gases from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal India killed thousands of people and poisoned 100s of thousands, many more in the years that followed. The catastrophe resulted from the company’s failure to correct serious design flaws, despite many warnings. Dow chemical, which now owns Union Carbide, refuses to assume responsibility for these crimes. The people of Bhopal have struggled to enforce accountability for one of the worst corporate crimes in history, and to gain some compensation for their suffering. They have every right to expect us to join them in their courageous efforts."