Thirty years ago, I’d never heard of Bhopal, India. Now to many, "Bhopal" — the site of one of the worst industrial accidents in history — signifies disaster, and justice denied. Marking today's solemn 30th anniversary of the deadly gas leak from a pesticide manufacturing facility, people around the world are saying, "We all live in Bhopal."
Three legal developments in the last week — in New York, New Delhi and Bhopal — set back the quest for compensation and contamination cleanup for residents of Bhopal who were killed or injured in the 1984 pesticide plant explosion, one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
Not only were local residents harmed directly by the blast, but contamination at the accident site continues to put the surrounding community's health at risk. At the center of the past week's legal proceedings is the issue of corporate accountability for crimes against humanity, with Dow Chemical front and center.
It's been almost 29 years since a Union Carbide pesticide plant exploded in Bhopal, India. The 1984 tragedy — one of the worst industrial accidents in history — has killed at least 20,000 people, and contamination at the accident site continues to put the surrounding community's health at risk.
Last month, a New York court once again denied justice for Bhopal victims when it upheld a previous judgment dismissing all claims against Union Carbide and its former CEO, Warren Anderson. Attorney Rajan Sharma, who represented the survivors, called the decision a "whitewash."
"There will definitely not be any Dow Chemical branding on the [stadium] wrap before, during or after the Olympic Games," announced a spokeswomen for the London 2012 organizing committee.
The October 18 development marks progress in a global campaign to shame Dow into admitting accountability to victims of the Union Carbide pesticide plant explosion in Bhopal in 1984. Dow merged with UC in 1999, yet has denied liability for the ongoing suffering of tens of thousands.
Victims of the 1984 Bhopal pesticide plant explosion are working with British Members of Parliament, Amnesty International and others to expose and oppose sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics by Dow Chemical Company. Dow has been denying liability for cleanup of the Bhopal site and reparations for victims and their survivors ever since it bought the plant’s former owner, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), in 2001.
“The company's name will be emblazoned on the £7m artwork 'wrap' around the main stadium, guaranteeing months of exposure,” according to the UK Independent. Dow and UCC are defendants in a litigation case in India for clean-up of the Bhopal pesticide factory site.
Today, March 30, in Baltimore, and continuing through April 7 to Berkeley, the documentary Bhopali is touring to raise awareness and support. Max Carlson's award-winning film explores the ongoing legacy of the Bhopal disaster and features Indian and international activists, including Noam Chomsky. You may view the dramatic trailer and get tour details from Students for Bhopal.
Institute, WV - This morning, March 18, in a “hastily called” court hearing, “Bayer CropScience lawyer Al Emch informed Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin that the company has decided not to resume production of the deadly chemical methyl isocyanate [MIC] at its Institute plant,” reports the Charleston Gazette. It was an MIC explosion that caused the 1984 Bhopal pesticide plant disaster.
Several deaths and decades after it should have, Bayer CropScience announced last week that it will stop making pesticides using methyl isocyante (MIC) in the U.S. MIC is the gas that exploded in 1984 in Bhopal, India, killing more than three thousand within weeks and leaving hundreds of thousands injured survivors struggling for justice even today.
On Dec. 6, three days after the anniversary of the 1984 Bhopal pesticide plant explosion, India’s Attorney General asked the country’s supreme court to force Dow Chemical to pay $1.1 billion in compensation to victims, reports the Wall Street Journal. The move follows on persistent advocacy and recent trials in India and around the world to hold Dow accountable for the liabilities of Union Carbide, acquired by Dow in 2001. The tragedy is now estimated to have caused 20,000 deaths and some 500,000 injuries.