Greenpeace joins Global Day of Action Against Corporate Crimes to Commemorate 19th Anniversary of Bhopal Disaster

Press release - 3 December, 2003
On the 19th anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, Greenpeace and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB), held a global day of action against corporate crimes. The protests, in 16 countries, were held to support the thousands of people in Bhopal who still suffer from illnesses caused by the disaster and to demand international laws to protect people worldwide from corporate crimes. (1)

On the 19th anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, activists from Greenpeace held a protest activity at the headquarter of Dow Chemical Europe as part of the Global Day of Action against Corporate Crime.

This morning, over 60 students, volunteers and activists lay down on the pavement in central Mumbai to recreate the horror of Bhopal where the streets were lined with 8,000 corpses in the days after the lethal gases leaked from Dow-Carbide's pesticide factory. As chalk outlines were drawn around the 'bodies', activists held up banners that said 'Remember Bhopal' and 'Dow - you have the blood of Bhopal on your hands.'

"This protest is to remind the world that the tragedy of Bhopal is far from over," said Greenpeace scientist, Ruth Stringer, speaking from Mumbai. "The abandoned factory site contains stockpiles of dangerous chemicals. Solvents spilled or leached into the soil have migrated into the ground water. Many local inhabitants still use this contaminated water for cooking, washing and drinking. Until the site is cleaned to the highest possible standards, the health of the people of Bhopal will remain at risk," she added. (2)

In Copenhagen, Greenpeace activists also drew the outline of corpses on the ground in front of the Dow offices while others protested in front of the American Embassy, calling for the indictment of Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide, who is currently hiding in the US and is wanted by Interpol. Activists in Switzerland delivered a replica of the memorial statue that stands outside the factory in Bhopal to Dow's European headquarters in Horgen.

Today, at least 150,000 people, including children born to parents exposed to the gas, suffer debilitating health effects. A recent scientific study, published by the Journal of American Medical Association, found selective birth retardation in boys (3). Since 1984, the death toll has risen to over 20,000 and at least 30 people continue to die each month from illnesses relates to gas exposure. Yet Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, refuses to accept liability for the disaster, to fully compensate the victims or clean up the factory site, which is still contaminated with dangerous chemicals.

Greenpeace invited people around the world today to support survivors of the Bhopal disaster by helping to send a message in a bottle to Dow Chemical. Visitors to the Greenpeace website can bid for bottles of contaminated Bhopal well water online. The highest bidders will have bottles sent on their behalf directly to Dow offices worldwide, along with a request to clean up Bhopal. All proceeds will go to Bhopal survivors. (4)

"As we enter the 20th year of our struggle for justice, we thank our supporters worldwide for acknowledging the ongoing health, environment and social disaster caused by the refusal of the Government and the polluter 'Dow-Carbide'to address pending liabilities in Bhopal. We are confident that the coming year will be a watershed for Dow Chemical and the Indian Government," said Rashida Bee of International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and a survivor of the disaster.

Notes: (1) Greenpeace is part of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB). The ICJB is calling on Dow Chemical to: · accept criminal liability as owners of Union Carbide, of which they are charged in the ongoing case pending in the Bhopal District Court;· provide for long-term medical care, monitoring and research of the survivors and their future generations.; · provide for comprehensive environmental remediation, within and outside the factory, and of the contaminated groundwater;· ensure immediate supply of safe drinking water to the affected communities; · provide livelihood opportunities to the survivors.The ICJB is also calling for Warren Anderson, the former chairman and CEO of Union Carbide, to face trial in India.(2) Greenpeace scientists have examined the soil and ground water in and around the Bhopal factory site. For full reports and results, see (3) The Journal for the American Medical Association (October 2003) can be found at Join the cyberaction and bid for Bhopal water on more information about today's protests see: or www.bhopal.netPhotos, video footage and interviews are available on request.