Police brutality against Bhopal survivors and Greenpeace as they begin to clean up toxic waste in Bhopal

Press release - 25 November, 2002

Greenpeace activist Alia Yeung arrested today in Bhopal.

At 10.30am this morning, police brutally arrested 56 volunteers, including survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster and Greenpeace activists from fourteen countries, to

prevent them from cleaning up dangerous toxic waste in Bhopal.

The volunteers were attempting to safely contain some of the hundreds of tonnes of chemicals and obsolete pesticides abandoned in Bhopal by the U.S. multinational when it fled the Indian city, after a gas leak at

its factory caused the world s worst industrial disaster that killed 8,000 people within days and injured half a million (1).

It s Dow, as the new owner of Union Carbide, that s behaving criminally by abandoning these poisons here, not these peaceful volunteers. It's surprising that the Government of India arrested us rather than supporting our efforts to protect people and make sure Dow accepts it's responsibilities in Bhopal," said Mr. Ananthapadmanabhan, Executive Director of Greenpeace India, who was among those arrested this


Despite repeated demands by survivors of the 1984 disaster, neither Union Carbide nor Dow have come forward to clean up the site.

Greenpeace scientists have been assessing levels of contamination in and around the factory site since 1999. They have found hundreds of tonnes of toxic pesticides and other hazardous materials throughout the

factory that have leaked into the soil and contaminated the water used by nearby communities (2). The entire factory site and the area around is so contaminated, it is an ongoing threat to the health of 500 families that

live nearby (3).

"Here in Bhopal, many people say the lucky ones are those who died in 1984. Dow's refusal to clean up the factory site is poisoning us daily.

By refusing to clean up the site, Dow is exposing another generation of children to dangerous chemicals. They can arrest us but will not stop us in our struggle for justice, said Rashida Bi, who survived the 1984 gas


"The Bhopal disaster will not end until Dow Chemicals cleans up Bhopal, provides medical assistance, clean running drinking water and full compensation to survivors," Dow has accepted liabilities for environmental crimes committed by Union Carbide in the U.S., now it must accept its liabilities here in India, (4)" added


VVPR info: Photos and video of Bhopal and today's action are available on request from Greenpeace Communications. Video: Mim Lowe + 31 653504721 Photos: John Novis + 31 653819121

Notes: (1) Today, the death toll stands at 20,000. One person a day still dies from gas-related diseases. (2) For further information on contamination levels in Bhopal see Greenpeace report "The Bhopal Legacy", available on www.greenpeace.org (3) This month, Greenpeace published step by step technical guidelines that explain how to clean up the contamination in Bhopal properly, usingthe best available techniques. The report has presented these guidelines to Dow. See www.greenpeace.org(4) On January 9 2002, Dow accepted a lawsuit in Texas, the U.S., originally filed against Union Carbide.