Dow talks about trust but refuses to act

Toxic waste from Bhopal returned to Europe

Feature story - 21 January, 2003
While Dow executives chatted with fellow business leaders at the World Economic Forum's 'Building Trust' annual meeting, we delivered a reality check. Thirty Greenpeace activists representing the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) transferred eighteen barrels of poisonous waste to Dow's European headquarters in Horgen, Switzerland. Others beat drums urging the US chemical giant to stop poisoning people and clean up its toxic mess in India.

Thirty Greenpeace activists, constituent of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, delivered eighteen barrels of poisonous waste collected from Bhopal, India to Dow's European headquarters in Horgen, Switzerland.

The 300 kg of poisonous waste is only a fraction of hundreds of tonnes that have been strewn around the derelict pesticide plant in Bhopal since 1984 when Union Carbide, which is now owned by Dow, fled the city after a gas leak at the plant killed 8,000 people and injured half a million.

Each of the eighteen barrels of delivered waste represents a year that

it has been left to leak into the soil and ground water around the factory site and poison people who survived the gas leak. The death toll currently stands at 20,000 and is rising every day. Children born to survivors are suffering health problems and 150,000 people are in urgent need of medical attention.

Dow's audacity to discuss matters of trust while refusing to accept responsibility for the pollution they caused is sickening. Meanwhile, confidential internal Union Carbide documents recently released by US courts show that the company knew about the problems in Bhopal but misled the public and the Indian authorities by saying the site was clean.

We join the ICJB in calling on Dow to clean up the site, as well as provide people with clean drinking water, long-term medical care and full compensation. International legislation should be put in place to make sure companies such as Dow are held responsible for pollution or accidents their operations cause, wherever they occur.