DOW-Carbide Reminded of Their Bhopal Liabilities at a Paris Fashion Fair

Feature story - September 21, 2004
PARIS, France — Two Bhopali youngsters, Sanjay and Rani Niloufer, survivors of the world's worst industrial disaster, joined Greenpeace activists to display images of the ongoing tragedy in Bhopal at the opening of an international textile exhibition in Paris, where DOW Chemical, the entity responsible for the 1984 disaster launched a new fabric called XLA. The activists under the banner of International campaign for Justice (ICJB) are demanding that DOW, the world's largest chemical company immediately accept full liability for the ongoing disaster in Bhopal.

Activists remind DOW-Carbide of their Bhopal liabilities in Paris

Visitors attending the release of DOW's new textile at Premier Vision's exhibition, were received by the youngsters and 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. ICJB is also demanding that the multinational pay for the medical rehabilitation of the survivors and clean up of 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. 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. (1)

On 3 December 1984, more than 40 tonnes of poisonous gases leaked from a storage tank at a Union Carbide (2) 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 & 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 (effectively Dow, the new owners of UCC) to carry out the Bhopal plant-site remediation. (3)

"DOW investors, and all those who will buy this fabric, should be aware that DOW has blood on its hands and no new textile will help them hide their crimes in Bhopal. Only when they pay completely for the medical treatment of all the ailing survivors and only when they clean up the poisonous site, will justice be done. Only then will DOW be free of this taint," added Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace campaigner from India protesting today in Paris.

Greenpeace has been campaigning for Justice 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.

For more information please contact:

Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace India Toxics campaigner: + 919845535418

Anne Castelain, Greenpeace France Media Officer, + 33 6 84 25 08 25

Namrata Chowdhary, Media Officer, Greenpeace India: +919810850092


(1) 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.

(2). In 2001, the US multinational company Dow Chemicals bought Union Carbide (UCC) for USD 9.3 billion.

(3). This case has been filed by Bhopali Survivors against Union Carbide Corporate demanding their involvement in 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).