Greenpeace displays a banner with pictures of the victims of the world's worst industrial disaster-Bhopal- at the opening of an international textile exhibition in Paris, where DOW Chemical, the entity responsible for the 1984 disaster presented a new fibre called XLA. Greenpeace is asking Dow Chemical to face its moral and financial responsibilities before investing in new markets.
Visitors attending the release of DOW's new textile at Premier
Vision's exhibition, were received by Greenpeace activists dressed
in black t-shirts revealing the faces of the victims of Bhopal and
handing them information regarding the company's corporate
irresponsibility. Greenpeace is also demanding that the
multinational pay the health treatments of the survivors and clean
up the large stockpiles of dangerous poisons and the contaminated
underground water left behind at the site of the accident.
"The people affected by the disaster now live in the shadow of
an ongoing environmental and health catastrophe. The banner that
carries the faces of the Bhopali victims reveals the hidden
collection of DOW - the real story of Bhopal after twenty years.
We, the people of Bhopal have suffered for 20 years now and it is
disheartening to discover that instead of taking responsibility for
cleaning up the polluted disaster site in Bhopal and offering
medical assistance to the ailing survivors, DOW is busy making
profits." Said Rani Niloufer, a 20-year-old Bhopal survivor
On 3 December 1984, more than 40 tonnes of poisonous gases
leaked from a storage tank at a Union Carbide (3) pesticide factory
into the heart of Bhopal city, immediately killing 8,000 people.
Since then, more than 20,000 deaths have been attributed to the
disaster. Survivors and their children continue to suffer long-term
health effects ranging from cancer and tuberculosis to birth
defects and chronic fevers.
In June 2004, the Government of India submitted a statement to
the New York District Court on the Bhopal contamination clean up
case asking Union Carbide to carry out the Bhopal plant-site
"DOW investors, and all those who will buy this fabric, should
be aware that DOW has blood on their hands and no new textile will
help them hide their crimes in Bhopal. Only when they pay for all
the survivors' health treatment and clean the poisonous site, will
justice be done," added Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace campaigner from
India protesting today in Paris.
Greenpeace has been working in Bhopal since 1999 when a team of
Greenpeace scientists worked with Bhopal community groups to
analyse the severity and extent of the contamination on and around
the factory site. The study found substantial and, in some
locations, severe contamination of land and water supplies with
heavy metals and chlorinated chemicals.
VVPR info: Photos available from Greenpeace International Picture Desk, Laura Lombardi, +31 (0) 6 46162009; footage available from Greenpeace France, Anne Castelain, + 33 6 84 25 08 2
Notes: (1) International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal: International coalition of Indian and Bhopal survivors and International NGOs campaigning for justice in Bhopal(2). Rani Niloufer and Sanjay Verma were both born in 1984, the year of the disaster. They have been suffering the effects of the toxics spread all over Bhopal since then. (3). In 2001, the US multinational company Dow Chemicals bought Union Carbide (UCC) for USD 9.3 billion. (4). This court has been filed by Bhopali Survivors against Union Carbide Corporate demanding their involvement of the Clean up of the contaminated site. The court was asking for the Indian government to pass its no objection.On July 19, 2004, the Supreme Court ordered the Government of India to distribute the balance of compensation remaining from Union Carbide's settlement among the 566,876 Bhopal survivors whose claims have been successfully settled. The balance of the hitherto undistributed compensation has accumulated interest and grown to Rs. 1,505 crores (some $327 million).