Bhopal disaster still unresolved 20 years on

Dow in denial

Feature story - December 3, 2004
BHOPAL, India — This December 3rd marks the 20th anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster at the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India. Twenty years later, the legacy of tragedy continues, and Dow continues to deny responsibility. We are making sure that they can't forget.

'I remember making three-tiered graves. There was no option but to pile up one body on top of another. In those three-four days we must have buried more than 4,000 persons' says Mohammad Aziz as he looks at these skeletons that have come out of the graves.

Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, refuses to take responsibility for the company they bought, living up to its history of valuing profit more than human life. We have been taking to the streets in India and around the world highlighting the legacy of corporate double standards and the suffering of the Bhopal people.

Madrid, Spain

On the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal industrial disaster, activists in Plaza Mayor, Madrid displayed images from Bhopal and asked the general public for signatures, demanding that the chemical company Dow pay its debt to the citizens of Bhopal.

Dow Chemical Factory, Rheinmuenster, Germany

Activists constructed a memorial sculpture near the Dow Chemical factory in Rheinmuenster, a copy of the "Bhopal Memorial" in India - a mother with two children. The banner reads: "Bhopal dies - Dow keeps silence!"

Bhopal, India

On the eve of the anniversary, a candlelight vigil was held at the Bhopal Memorial in India. On the anniversary itself thousands of people took to the streets demanding action from both Dow Chemical and the Indian Government. They also burnt effigies of former Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson, who has been charged for culpable homicide in India but remains safely in the US.

About the Bhopal disaster

Warren Anderson, Union Carbide chairman at the time, knowingly put a city of half a million innocent people into a potentially deadly situation for personal profit. This action is a crime against humanity and the environment.

MoreThe Bhopal disaster in India, in 1984, is the world's worst chemical disaster. Toxic gas leaked from the poorly maintained and understaffed plant owned by Union Carbide, killing up to 20,000 people and leaving 120,000 chronically ill. Saftey systems designed to prevent such a disaster at the plant had been shut down to save money.

The survivors have never received adequate compensation for their debilitating illnesses and even 20 years after the disaster, the polluted site of the abandoned factory, bleeds poisons daily into the groundwater of local residents. Bhopal is an ongoing disaster and Union Carbide's new owners, Dow Chemicals, should pay to clean up the toxic mess.

MoreOutside, we saw all the neighbors running. The sky over us was turning red. I hadn't been able to put on any slippers. I can still remember the blue frilly frock that I was wearing that morning.

MoreRead our feature Nightmare in Bhopal

Read the stories of Ruby in India and Paul in Michigan, both suffering from Dow Chemical's environmental pollution.

Take Action

Find out more about our ongoing campaign to get Dow to clean up its own mess - including how to contact Dow