Greenpeace Points Spotlight at Potential Bhopal-Type Disaster at Dow Plants in the U.S.

July 6, 2010

Greenpeace activists around the world held public demonstrations today with AACCTT, Bhopal (a coalition of survivors' groups), calling on the Dow Chemical Co. to take responsibility for the toxic legacy in Bhopal and to do what's needed to prevent a Bhopal-type disaster from happening again. Greenpeace unveiled maps of Midland and selected chemical plants across the U.S., showing what would happen if there were major chemical leaks at these plants from terrorist attacks or accidents.

In Midland, Michigan, site of Dow’s headquarters, Greenpeace
joined local activists to deliver a letter to Dow detailing the
environmental group’s demands of the company, which merged with
Union Carbide (who owned the factory in Bhopal, India) this
year.

“Bhopal suffered the worst industrial accident in history, and I
would not wish the experience on anyone,” said Navroz Mody,
Greenpeace India Campaign Coordinator. “Dow and Union Carbide made
part of India a toxic nightmare. They must make sure the same thing
doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.”

The lethal gas leak from the Bhopal factory in 1984 killed as
many as 7,500 people immediately and is causing tens of thousands
of people in the area to have severe medical problems. Union
Carbide only paid out an average of $370-$533 per person in
February, 1989. As many as 100,000 people are still in need of
urgent medical attention and have missed out on compensation.

The abandoned factory remains, with toxic waste and pesticide
residue strewn about the property. The groundwater in the area is
still contaminated. To illustrate this, Greenpeace activists
delivered water samples from Bhopal to Dow offices in Switzerland,
Netherlands, Chile, Thailand, China (Hong Kong), Philippines, India
and Argentina.

The letter that activists delivered to Dow in Midland included
the following demands:

  • clean up the abandoned Union Carbide site in Bhopal,
    India;
  • provide long term medical assistance and services to the Bhopal
    victims; and
  • ensure economic rehabilitation for the victims.

“Dow has bought Union Carbide’s goods, but it’s trying to ignore
its horrible legacy from Bhopal,” noted Damu Smith, Greenpeace
Toxics Campaigner. “Dow must do the right thing and clean up the
toxic waste that Union Carbide left behind in India. Corporate
polluters would never have been allowed to abandon a contaminated
site in the U.S. They shouldn’t be allowed to do it in India,
either.”

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