20 years are more than enough: justice must be served in Bhopal

Press release - 2 December, 2004
Greenpeace activists around the world are remembering the world's worst industrial disaster, twenty years after a toxic gas leak killed and maimed thousands in the Indian city of Bhopal (1). Bearing candles and photos of people stricken by the poisonous gas leak, the activists are calling on DOW Chemical to take full responsibility for Bhopal.

"Twenty years on, people in Bhopal are still suffering because DOW Chemical refuses to take responsibility for their welfare or for the toxic waste that is still poisoning their land and water (2). Thousands around the world are remembering Bhopal and what its stands for today - the danger of the chemical age, double standards and lack of accountability of multi-national corporations," said Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace campaigner in Bhopal.

Greenpeace activists in fifteen countries, and seven Indian cities, including Bhopal, will hold candlelight vigils and form human chains. In Switzerland, they will deliver an exact replica of the memorial statue in Bhopal to the DOW European headquarters in Zurich. Photo exhibitions showing people impacted by the poisoned gas and the contamination of the site are being held in Belgium, France, Australia, India, Slovakia and China, among others.

"In an increasingly globalised world, there is a need for corporations like DOW to use consistent standards around the world and take responsibility for their operations. If this disaster had happened in Europe or the US, the site would have been cleaned and the people fully compensated. We demand that DOW takes full responsibility for the horrendous disaster in Bhopal", Gerd Leipold, Greenpeace International Executive Director will say at a seminar on Bhopal and corporate accountability in Brussels on December 3rd.

Greenpeace and International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) (3) are demanding that DOW, the multinational chemical leader, pays for the health treatment of the survivors, cleans up the large stockpiles of dangerous poisons left behind at the factory site since the disaster and cleans up the contaminated underground water. They are also calling for international corporate accountability legislation to make sure disasters like Bhopal never happen again.

Notes: (1). On the night of December 2-3rd 1984, forty tons of lethal gases leaked from a pesticide factory in Bhopal, owned by Union Carbide, now DOW Chemicals. The disaster has killed up to 20,000 people and left at least 150,000 chronically ill to date. Survivors and their children continue to suffer long-term health effects ranging from cancer and tuberculosis to birth defects and chronic fevers.(2). A further 20,000 people remain at risk of being poisoned by toxic waste that has been abandoned at the site since the disaster. The toxic chemicals include carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals such as mercury, according to the scientific findings of Greenpeace in 1999, 2002 and 2004. (3). http://www.bhopal.net

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