Greenpeace Challenges Dow Chemicals to Clean up site of world's worst industrial disaster

Guidelines for Clean up delivered to multinational chemical giant

Press release - 24 October, 2002

Studies conducted by Greenpeace found contamination in the soil and ground water at the Union Carbide factory as well as stockpiles of abandoned toxic waste. Hundreds of people,such as these residents of the Ayub Nagar colony, behind the factory, still drink and wash with the contaminated ground water.

As Dow Chemicals talked of increased sales today (1), Greenpeace challenged the multinational to spend some of its assets on cleaning up hundreds of tonnes of toxic waste that has been poisoning survivors of the world's worst industrial disaster since 1984 (2). The waste was abandoned by Union Carbide (now Dow Chemicals) after an explosion at its pesticide plant in Bhopal, India left 8,000 dead and half a million injured.

"My research takes me to lots of contaminated areas, but never before have I witnessed a scene like this," said Greenpeace scientist, Ruth Stringer. "Survivors of the Bhopal disaster have been slowly poisoned by exposure to these chemicals for the past eighteen years."

At a press conference in Bhopal this morning, Greenpeace and other members of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) launched new comprehensive guidelines on how to safely clean up toxic waste at the factory site in Bhopal. "Dow must contain all the toxic poisons left behind at the Bhopal site and clean it up using highest possible standards, at least equivalent to those that would be applied in the U.S. or Europe," said Stringer. (3)

Greenpeace and the ICJB are today delivering the guidelines to Dow headquarters in the U.S. and Europe as well as presented them personally to the Chief Minister of the State of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Digvijay Singh, whose Minister of Gas Relief, Mr. Arif Akeel, said past October 19th that "We will ask that Dow be held accountable for whatever environmental damages have occurred because while they inherited the assets they also become responsible for liabilities", as reported by The Indian Express.

"We fully support the state government's move to make sure Dow shoulders the costs of cleaning up toxic waste in Bhopal," said Ananthpadmadabhan, Executive Director of Greenpeace India. "Why should taxpayers in a country with a national average earning of USD 460 pay to clean up the waste of a U.S. multinational chemical giant that boasts annual revenues of over USD 28 billion?" he added.

VVPR info: Photos available from Greenpeace International Photo Desk, John Novis, Mob:+31653819121

Notes: (1) See Greenpeace report The Bhopal Legacy at The study is based on past scientific research on the contamination of the site, conducted by Greenpeace and other independent organisations since the explosion in 1984. (3) Survivor of the Bhopal disaster Rashida Bai will arrive in Europe on Sat to tour the region seeking support for their case against Dow Chemicals. More info Helen Perivier Tel: +32 2 274 1902 or Mob: +32 496 127 107