Dow CEO called upon to accept responsibility for 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster by survivors representatives and Greenpeace at Dow AGM.
Protest on the 17th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster
Survivors of deadly Bhopal chemical disaster travelled with
Greenpeace and other support organisations to Dow Chemical's annual
shareholders meeting in Michigan, the United States today to
confront the company on its pending liabilities.
The coalition called on Dow CEO, Michael D. Parker, to ensure
Dow accepts responsibility for the 1984 gas leak at the Union
Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal that killed thousands and left
many more with serious injuries. Dow became the world's biggest
chemical company when it purchased Union Carbide in 2001 but has so
far refused to accept Carbide's pending liabilities for
environmental and human rights violations in Bhopal.
"Dow's ownership of Union Carbide has not changed the need for
the contaminated Bhopal site to be cleaned up or for the survivors
to be rehabilitated. US law doesn't absolve responsibility for
contamination due to transition of ownership. A lesser standard
outside the US is unconscionable," noted Dr. Mary Elizabeth Harmon,
of Greenpeace. "Dow's shareholders should question the morality of
a company that puts so much effort into platitudes about
responsible care while paying no regard to the suffering it
inflicts on people," she added.
Bhopal survivors requested a private meeting with Dow last week
to discuss the issue of Bhopal but the US chemical giant refused.
Despite Dow's claims that it "believe[s] in the inherent worth of
people and will honour our relationships with those whom let us be
part of this world" it stated that it would only be interested in
making a "humanitarian gesture" to Bhopal survivors and any further
discussion "would not be a productive use of anyone's time".
"It's my hope that the gravity of our situation can be
understood by our willingness to travel around the world to state
our case to Dow for just five minutes," said Dr. H. Trivedi, a
Bhopal survivor who addressed Mr. Parker during the question and
answer session of the meeting in Midland, Michigan. "How can Dow
tout its dedication to corporate responsibility while turning a
cold shoulder to us?" he added.
The Bhopal survivors built a replica of the memorial statue
originally dedicated to the victims of the disaster and donated it
to the Midland Centre for the Arts as a mark of solidarity to
people living in Midland, where the Dow annual meeting is taking
place. Widespread dioxin pollution has recently been discovered
downstream from the Midland Dow plant and poses a serious threat to
the community. At an unveiling ceremony today, Midland and Bhopal
were named sister cities, united in their chemical legacies and by
Dow's lack of commitment to clean up its toxic waste. Yet, unlike
the people of Bhopal, Midland residents are protected to some
extent under US law. Although legal procedures often delay toxic
clean up, US law dictates that Dow is liable for its