Greenpeace, Bhopal Survivors Return Toxic Waste To Dow Chemical
July 6, 2010
At midday today, Greenpeace and survivors of the world's worst industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, started returning toxic waste collected from the disaster scene to its rightful owner, Dow Chemical.
At midday today, Greenpeace and survivors of the world’s worst
industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, started returning toxic waste
collected from the disaster scene to its rightful owner, Dow
Chemical. The waste was abandoned in Bhopal in 1984 and has been
poisoning residents there ever since. Greenpeace activists on their
way to Dow headquarters in Amsterdam to deliver a cargo of deadly
waste from the Bhopal site.
Following a year marked by heightened awareness of corporate
accountability and business ethics, today’s events were a reminder
that corporate responsibility for human rights abuses deserves the
same scrutiny as accounting scandals.
John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace in the U.S.
and Rashida Bi, leader of the Bhopal Gas Victim Women’s Union, and
other members of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal,
unloaded seven barrels, or 250kg, of safely contained waste from
the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and started delivering
them to Dow’s largest European operation, Dow Benelux in the
Netherlands. Three activists rappelled down the building and hung
eight huge photographs of Dow’s corporate crime in Bhopal. As of
10am EST, Dutch police had arrested fifteen activists, including
Passacantando and Bi.
“I’ve travelled to the Netherlands to insist that Dow take
responsibility for the devastating, lingering effects of the Bhopal
disaster. Corporate accountability does not simply pertain to
business practices and accounting scandals that occur within the
United States, but also extend to human rights issues worldwide,”
said Passacantando. “As a global corporation, Dow is expected to
safely maintain its facilities throughout the world. It must accept
responsibility and atone for the thousands who have lost their
lives and become ill as a result of their company’s
The poisonous waste returned today is only a fraction of
hundreds of tons that were abandoned around the derelict pesticide
plant in Bhopal since 1984, when Union Carbide — now owned by Dow
— fled the city after a gas leak at the plant killed 8,000 people
and injured half a million.Ý The chemical company has refused to
accept responsibility for the waste and refuses to clean up the
site. For 18 years, chemicals have leaked into the soil and
groundwater around the factory site, poisoning residents of the
city. The death toll stands at 20,000 and continues to rise.
Children born to survivors suffer health problems, while 150,000
people are in urgent need of medical attention.
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal is calling on
Dow to accept its pending liabilities in Bhopal, to clean up the
site, provide people with clean drinking water, long-term medical
care and full compensation. It is also calling for international
legislation to be put in place to make sure companies, such as Dow,
are held responsible for pollution or accidents their operations
cause, wherever they occur.