Carbide Criminal found

Feature story - 29 August, 2002
Warren Anderson, former Union Carbide CEO at the time of the world's worst industrial disaster in Bhopal, India in 1984, has been found living a life of luxury in New York State. He is wanted in India to face charges of culpable homicide over the deaths of 20,000 people since the disaster.

Warren Anderson at his door in Bridgehampton, Long Island, New York.

Anderson has been hiding in the US since an explosion at his company's plant in Bhopal, India, caused the immediate deaths of thousands of people and has resulted in life long suffering for almost 120,000 survivors.

We paid Anderson a visit at his US home and handed him an arrest warrant. He was tracked down in a matter of weeks by a UK newspaper. He has been facing charges of culpable homicide and an extradition order from the government of India for the past eleven years. He has never appeared in court to face charges for crimes in Bhopal or even to explain why his company did not apply the same safety standards at its plant in India that it operated at a sister plant in the US state of West Virginia.

Our campaigner in the US, Casey Harrell personally visited Mr. Anderson at his luxury home where he refused to comment on the disaster. "If a team of journalists and Greenpeace managed to track down India's most wanted man in a matter of days, how seriously have the US authorities tried to find him all these years? The US has reacted swiftly on curbing the financial corporate crimes of Enron and WorldCom, but has clearly not made much of an effort to find Anderson, responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people in India," said Casey.

On the night of the disaster, when an explosion at Union Carbide's pesticide plant caused 40 tonnes of lethal gas to seep into the city of Bhopal, six safety measures designed to prevent a gas leak had either malfunctioned, were turned off or were otherwise inadequate. In addition, the safety siren, intended to alert the community should an incident occur at the plant, was turned off.

Union Carbide responded to the disaster by paying survivors inadequate compensation and abandoning the plant, leaving tonnes of dangerous toxic chemicals strewn around the site and the people of Bhopal with a toxic legacy that is still causing injury today. In 2001, the company shed its name by merging with Dow Chemical.

Calling on both governments to act swiftly, Ganesh Nochur, of Greenpeace in India stated, "Now that Anderson's address is known, India must immediately and formally push for his arrest and extradition on charges of culpable homicide. In return, Greenpeace demands that the US honour this request, per the two nations' extradition agreement. Anderson and the rest of Union Carbide, now Dow Chemical, should take responsibility for their crimes in Bhopal."

In South Africa activists from 15 countries highlighted pollution from a Dow manufacturing plant just a few kilometres from the site of the Earth Summit. While Dow does nothing to help the survivors of the Bhopal disaster it also continues to pollute the environment, with toxic and cancer causing chemicals, where it considers the pollution will not be noticed.

At the Earth Summit, Greenpeace together with other groups are urging governments to commit to laws on corporate responsibility in order to stop the widespread abuse of the environment and human rights by multinational corporations. However the same multinationals are out in force at the summit to try to ensure that there are no new rules just nice voluntary agreements where corporations can say how 'responsible' they are, but face no penalties if they fail to comply. Will voluntary measures will stop Dow polluting South Africa?