Bhopal disaster still unresolved 20 years on

Dow in denial

Feature story - 3 December, 2004
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!"

Hyderabad, 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 in Bhopal 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.

Dow European HQ, Switzerland

Activists deliver an exact replica of the memorial statue that stands outside the Union Carbide site in Bhopal -'mother with two children' to the DOW European Headquarters near Zurich.

About the Bhopal disaster

The 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.