Homicide OK -- trespassing, no way

The CEO responsible is still free, the activists who sought to clean up, arrested

Feature story - 25 November, 2002
Within a half hour of arriving on site to clean up Bhopal, around 60 protesters including local residents and Greenpeace activists were arrested. It was estimated that more than 100 police in riot gear swarmed over the peaceful action, which was taking place at the former Union Carbide factory, now owned by Dow, where a deadly gas leak in 1984 killed thousands and blinded and maimed thousands more. Former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson has been wanted for culpable homicide for more than a decade for his role in the accident.

Greenpeace activists and locals are arrested before starting to clean up contamination site in Bhopal.

A hazardous materials team intended to safely contain a stockpile of toxic pesticides and contaminated soil, then contact Dow to finish the job.

US activist Stephanie Hillman explained, "We started to clean up Bhopal to show Dow Chemicals that the toxic waste abandoned here can and should be cleaned up."

The activists, from 14 countries, intended to expose 18 years of suffering and inaction at the world's worst corporate crime site, which is still poisoning the drinking water supplies of the region.

The site is littered with hundreds of tonnes of deadly chemicals that Union Carbide left behind when it fled India after the gas leak in 1984 which has killed 20,000 people to date and injured half a million. The well water that the community around the abandoned factory uses everyday literally stinks of the poisons bleeding from the waste on site.

While Dow remains inactive, one person a day dies in Bhopal due to the continuing effects of the deadly gas leak. The lack of proper compensation and medical care of survivors continues to kill and the deadly chemicals dumped on site slowly poison the surrounding areas.

"It's Dow, as the new owners of Union Carbide, that's behaving criminally by leaving these dangerous materials here, not these peaceful protestors. The government of India should welcome the protestors' efforts to protect people in Bhopal and make sure Dow accepts its responsibilities. They should have assisted them, rather than arresting and beating them," said Satinath Sarangi, of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

Slideshow on the Bhopal disaster:

Immediate aftermath and the tragic effects of an avoidable disaster.