of Dow-Union Carbide facilities worldwide
This page started out as a collection
of stories about Dow-Carbide's implementation of its famous "Zero
Harm" policy. But the harder we looked the more stories we found
of people who have been killed, or had their health ruined, by the greed
and irresponsibility of these two companies, Union Carbide and Dow Chemical,
which have now perhaps fittingly become one and the same.
So many stories, yet
they almost all follow the same pattern. A dangerous process, an untested
chemical, a carelessly run plant. People die, or have their lives ruined.
The company attempts to cover up the disaster, denies responsibility,
stalls and impedes legal processes, lobbies against changes in the law
which would limit its activities or force it to spend more on safety.
Innumerable are their lies, their cold-hearted attempts to bury evidence
which could have saved the lives of their victims. From the Hawks Tunnel
silicosis disaster of 1930 to the Vinyl Chloride cover-up that began in
1954 and lasted fifty years, taking in along the way Hiroshima, napalm,
dioxin and Bhopal,
beware, if you live near or work in a Dow-Carbide chemical plant, you
are in great danger of being poisoned, just as the people of Bhopal were.
If you are a Dow investor, you were shaken by the asbestos liabilities
inherited by Dow from Union Carbide. They are nothing compared to what
is to come. You
should know the following: when Dow took over Union Carbide, it declared
that there were no outstanding criminal charges against the company: as
a court in Bhopal affirmed last month, that is a lie. Although Dow has
inherited and paid out on Carbide liabilities in the US, it claims it
does not inherit Carbide liabilities in India: that is legal nonsense.
It further states that any claims against it were expunged by the 1989
"settlement" which has produced the spectacular sum of $500
for each injured survivor -- compare figures in the stories below -- but
you should know that the settlement did not and does not cover claims
arising against Carbide from its environmental rape of the Bhopal factory
site, which Greenpeace has designated a global toxic hotspot. Read
more on that story here. If Dow's management have any sense, they
will quickly accept their liabilities in Bhopal, clear up their mess and
compensate and rehabilitate their victims. This will be costly, but less
costly in the long run than the abyss to whose brink they are drawing
ever closer. Judging by their behaviour and public statements, we do not
believe the present Dow management has enough sense to see this -- but
perhaps you, their shareholder, do.
If you spot a story about Dow or its wholly-owned subsidiary Union Carbide
in a local newspaper, please notify
of a Report of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor
Hawk's Tunnel Disaster. "Whereas
four hundred and seventy-six tunnel workers employed by the Rinehart and
Dennis Company, contractors for the New Kanawha Power Company, subsidiary
of the Union Carbide and Carbon Company, have from time to time died from
silicosis contracted while employed in digging out a tunnel at Gauley
Bridge, West Virginia; and Whereas one thousand five hundred workers are
now suffering from silicosis contracted while employed in the construction
of said tunnel at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia; and Whereas one hundred
and sixty-nine of said workers were buried in a field at Summerville,
West Virginia, with cornstalks as their only gravestones and with no other
means of identification' Union
Carbide, operating the Hawk's Nest mine with the same safety standards
that would lead to the Bhopal tragedy decades later, chose not to issue
dust masks or to wet the site to reduce workers' danger of contracting
silicosis. An estimated two thousand workers died of the disease, while
the company suppressed medical information about the causal relationship
between inhaled silica dust and the illness and paid scientists to downplay
the danger. In subsequent hearings a Union Carbide contractor bereft of
PR packaging finally told the bald truth, saying "I knew I was going
to kill (the mine workers) but I didn't know it was going to be this soon."
also April 1998 West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly below.
6 August 1945 Truman
Library Public Papers
HOURS AGO an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important
Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T.
It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British "Grand
Slam" which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.
It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe.
The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those
who brought war to the Far East. A few days later the War Department
Washington, D.C published the following Statement of the Secretary
of War The
recent use of the atomic bomb over Japan, which was today made known by
the President, is the culmination of years of herculean effort on the
part of science and industry working in cooperation with the military
authorities . . . While space does not permit of a complete listing of
the industrial concerns which have contributed so signally to the success
of the project, mention should be made of a few. The du Pont de Nemours
Company designed and constructed the Hanford installations in Washington
and operate them. A special subsidiary of the M.W. Kellogg Company of
New York designed one of the plants at Clinton, which was constructed
by the J.A. Jones Company and is operated by the Union Carbide and Carbon
May 1954 to date PBS
Dow and Union Carbide knew in 1954 that vinyl chloride caused cancer,
but they and other companies hid the facts from their own workers, from
the public and from government for years.
years to the day after he went to work with vinyl chloride and other toxic
chemicals at a plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Dan Ross died of a rare
brain cancer. He was 46 years old, convinced that his job had killed him.
His wife, Elaine, sued her husband's former employer and, over the next
decade, the process of legal discovery led deeper and deeper into the
inner chambers of the chemical industry and its Washington trade association.
Hundreds of thousands of pages of documents were unearthed. Dan and Elaine
Ross sued. Eventually, their attorney William Baggett, Jr. charged all
vinyl chloride-producing companies with conspiracy.
is a story we were never supposed to know secrets that go back
to the beginning of the chemical revolution. For almost 50 years, chemical
companies and their Washington trade association kept records including
confidential letters and internal correspondence that discuss scientific
evidence of the toxic effects of chemicals like vinyl chloride, and minutes
of board meetings that record frank talk about strategies to defeat or
delay regulation of their products. Read
the documents for yourself. In document after document
there emerges the industry's clear, callous disregard for everything but
the holy dollar. The vinyl chloride scandal, which Dow, Carbide and their
colleagues have managed to drag out for nearly 50 years, is the blueprint
for their continuing refusal to take responsibility for the poisoning
of drinking water wells in Bhopal by chemicals abandoned in their derelict
Magazine, 5 January - Time
Magazine "Protesting napalm" Also in Business Week,
10 Feb 1969, and the story was covered in Pravda under the headline,
"Out the Back Window, Mr. Jones."
The story of how Dow Chemical came to be involved in making
napalm for the US government during the Vietnam War. Student protests
and Dow's response and justification, "saving American lives".
As novelist Robert Benchley commented at the time, this mantra can
be used to justify anything.
flaming rat (right) is an image from Harun Farocki's astute 1969
film, "Inextinguishable Fire" - about the production of
Napalm B by the Dow Chemical Company for the War in Vietnam; about
the abuses of human labor; and about documentary filmmaking.
At Union Carbide's Cimanggis plant in Indonesia, 402 employees (more than
half the work force of 750) were found to be suffering from kidney diseases
attributable to mercury poisoning. (Much like Bhopal.) The company's doctor
Dr.Maizar Syafei reported that she was asked by the company not to tell
the workers that there was mercury in their drinking water or else the
workers "would become anxious." We would like more information
on this story. If you have anything we should know,
please contact us.
28 February 1980 Nuclearfiles.org
KENTUCKY, U.S.A. - Joe Harding, a former enrichment plant worker, is dying
from cancer. He keeps a list of fellow workers the Union Carbide's enrichment
plant at Paducah, Kentucky, who have died or are dying of cancers and
blood diseases once considered rare. Of the 200 men Joe worked with since
1952, at least 50 are dead. He has had his stomach removed and contracts
pneumonia every year. Union Carbide has never granted compensation to
any of its employees for radiation-related injuries or illnesses although
Joe and others have been involved in several law suits. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2
2 June 1981Nuclearfiles.org
In the U.S.A. around
$620,000 was awarded to the family of LEROY DRUMBACK on 2nd June, 1981.
DRUMBACK worked for 15 years at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility
which produces Plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads. He died of cancer
of the colon in January 1974 and his case is the first in which damages
were awarded for cancer caused by radiation at Rocky Flats. Dow Chemical
Company, the plant operator where Krumback worked, is appealing against
the decision. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.6)
15 September 1995
has been aware of the association between dioxin and its products for
thirty years or more. The corporation, however, has never acknowledged
the full import of this problem nor developed a consistent plan to move
away from its dependence on dioxin associated products. Instead, Dow has
approached public and scientific debates about dioxin with a vigor and
methodology that recalls the tobacco industry's participation in debates
over public health implications of cigarette smoking. Dow consistently
works to confuse and obscure public and scientific understanding of dioxin
sources, and seeks to downplay or discredit evidence documenting dioxin's
alarming health impacts. Dow works to dismantle occupational safety and
health laws that provide workers some protection from Dow produced pesticides
and solvents. The corporation works to dismantle clean water and clean
air laws that provide some protection from the health and environmental
impacts of its products. And finally, Dow vigorously opposes any government
proposal to study or even look at problems associated with chlorine-chemistry,
or to consider substitutes or alternatives.
Thoroughly researched 10 page report on Dow's bid to poison the entire
human population of the planet (dioxin accumulates in tissues). See (below)
Dow's typically disingenuous reaction to the discovery in August this
year of alarmingly high dioxin levels in its hometown, Midland, MI. (And
last year's discovery of its nasty secret in New Zealand.)
28 October 1995 CNN
$3.9 million in breast implant case" Report contains famous last
words from Dow-Carbide's luckless PR man John Musser (really, Dow-Carbide
must choose these guys for their total lack of irony) "We're
disappointed that the jury was influenced by emotion, misinformation and
the big lie strategy used by the plaintiff's lawyers, but we believe
this verdict is not precedent setting, given the unusual aspects of this
case," Musser said. "We will continue to defend ourselves vigorously
and we will prevail."
19 August 1997
'A Louisiana jury Monday
found that Dow Chemical was negligent in testing silicone for breast implants,
lied about the possible risks and plotted with manufacturer Dow Corning
- half-owned by Dow Chemical - to hide potential health dangers.'
(Lied? Never! Musht be shome mishtake, Ed) The
big lie rebounds on John Musser, who remarked, "This is not the end
of the case, nor is it simply automatic now that there's going to be damages
27 October 1998 Ashbury
is terribly wrong in Toms River," Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg. Tests
of water at the wellhead of Well 29 found levels of trichloroethylene,
a probable carcinogen, between .4 and .8 parts per billion. The state
standard for trichloroethylene in drinking water is 1 part per billion.
"We understand residents' heightened concern about the quality of
water," said Union Carbide spokesman Tom Sprick. Sprick has also
been Carbide's mouthpiece on the Bhopal issue. Trichloroethylene (trichloroethene)
has also been found in Bhopal's wells at 50 times greater than EPA limits.
Why does Tom Sprick not understand the concern
of Bhopal's residents? SEE STORY OF 10 JANUARY 2002, BELOW.
22 August 1999 Washington
Excessive Uranium Found In Worker's Bones Who Protested
"We turned the badges in and that was the last we heard of it,"
said Al Puckett, a retired union shop steward who worked at the Paducah
Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky, "No one ever said anything to
us." The Paducah plant supplied radioactive fuel for nuclear bombs.
Now long-overlooked medical evidence shows that for some workers radiation
doses were far higher than previously believed and may have been dozens
of times above the federal limits. The exhumed bones of uranium worker
Joseph Harding, who died in 1980, offers the strongest corroboration to
date of hazardous conditions inside the plant, where workers labored for
decades in a haze of radioactive dust that was sometimes laced with plutonium.
DOE Secretary Bill Richardson called Harding a "hero of the Cold
War," but for nine years before his death, Harding's claims of radiation
exposure were vigorously challenged by contractors (at that time, Union
Carbide, Martin Marietta, and Lockheed Martin) and DOE officials who insisted
that the plant was safe. Before his death, Harding developed stomach cancer,
lung perforations, and growths on his limbs. Harding had insisted that
the plant always had a dense fog of uranium dust and smoke that would
cling to workers' skin and coat their throats and teeth. A DOE study in
1981 attributed Harding's death to a combination of smoking and eating
country ham. A new study is also tracking death rates among workers at
the K-25 plant in Oak Ridge where there is an unusually high rate of lung
and bone cancer among workers, as well as a third facility in Ohio. DOE
admits it is now clear that uranium workers were not properly protected
until at least 1990. "This reaffirms our decision to get out of the
business of fighting sick workers," said David Michaels, DOE Assistant
Secretary for EHS on Aug. 20. "Right now we should be bending over
backward to help those workers." (Washington Post, Aug. 22, 1999.
For more radiation victim information go to http://www.downwinders.org
October 19, 2000 United
Union Carbide plant closed after leak
The local authorities
took action against the a subsidiary of U.S.-based Union Carbide group,
after receiving complaints from residents about respiratory disorders,
burning of eyes and loss of hair. Residents gathered at the factory and
attacked Union Carbide officials, who were trying to pacify the crowd.
The managing director of Union Carbide Lanka, Gamini Gunasekara, and several
others were injured in the violence. Gunasekera told United Press International
that the leak was an accident because of an employee's fault. The employee,
he said, had poured ethyl acrylate into the water treatment plant. "As
the vapors spread people complained of uneasiness and breathing problems,
so we ourselves shut down operations. The local authorities then sent
us a letter to close the factory," Gunasekera said. Local newspaper
and television channels compared the incident to that of Bhopal in India
where thousands of people died and many continue to suffer because of
the leakage of methyl isocyanide from the Union Carbide plant in 1984.
Newspapers quoted residents of Je Ela saying that more than 1,000 people
sought medical treatment after Monday's leakage. Doctors said that most
of those brought to Ja Ela hospital or the national hospital were suffering
from respiratory disorders. Drinking water in Ja Ela, newspapers said,
had been polluted because of the effluent discharged from Union Carbide
factory. "People have to go a long way to fetch safe drinking water,"
a report said. Just like Bhopal, even down to the management trying
to blame an employee. Down to the undrinkable water near the plant.
29 November 2000
Socialist World News
"Colombo residents demand halt to toxic pollution"
the night of October 16, Union Carbide's binding gum-producing factory
discharged chemicals, including poisonous ethyl acrylate, into an open
drain in the heavily-populated suburb, seriously harming at least 100
people, including 25 children. The discharge immediately sparked angry
protests because residents have complained for five years about the dangerous
pollution in Ekala, about 25 kilometres north of Colombo city.
The leak affected the water and air over a two-square kilometre area.
Residents suddenly suffered sore eyes, headache, vomiting, breathing problems,
choking and rising temperatures. Children were taken to nearby hospitals,
with some serious cases transferred to Colombo's national hospital the
next day. More than 500 people gathered outside the factory during the
night and demanded its immediate closure. Security officers admitted that
the company, a subsidiary of the US multinational, had released contaminated
water into the drain but claimed that the incident had ended. They refused
to allow residents into the plant to see for themselves. However, the
protest forced the local council to order the plant's temporary closure.
When the affected residents met the next morning at a small hall to discuss
further steps, a leading local politician from the Peoples Alliance government
led a mob assault on them. A gang of about 15 attacked the meeting with
leather belts, batons and bottles. Those who fled were attacked with stones
and some suffered leg injuries as they had tried to scale walls to escape.
Sixteen years after Bhopal and Carbide had learned nothing.
Nasty Little Secret -- Agent Orange Dump found under New Zealand Town"
A former top official at New Plymouth's lvon Watkins Dow chemical factory
has confirmed the worst fears of residents - part of the town may be sitting
on a secret toxic waste dump containing the deadly Vietnam War defoliant
Agent Orange."Agent Orange: "We've buried it under New Plymouth"
... "And if any further proof were needed that surplus Agent
Orange had been dumped at New Plymouth, local residents found a drum of
the chemical on the beach near Waireka Stream." Outrageous stuff.
The company had kept its dirty little secret for 20 years.
In A Can: Small market, big liability According to minutes of a January
30, 1973 meeting, the Manufacturing Chemists Association's vinyl chloride
research team, with representatives from Dow, PPG, B.F. Goodrich, Ethyl
Corporation, Union Carbide, and other major companies, met to discuss
what position the MCA should convey to its member companies regarding
the continued use of vinyl chloride as an aerosol propellant. Their primary
concern was to avoid "undue and premature attention on the industrial
hygiene aspects of the problem," and they dealt with it by taking
no position. (view
entire document) Not
only was the MCA avoiding public discussion of VCM use in aerosols, they
were also hiding the evidence that VCM causes cancer.
9 May 2001 Bureau
of Industry & Security, US Department of Commerce
Chemical Company Subsidiary Settles Charges of Illegal Chemical Exports.
The U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Export Administration (BXA)
today imposed a $30,000 civil penalty on Holland-based Dow Benelux N.V.
(Dow Benelux N.V.), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company.
BXA alleged that Dow Benelux N.V. reexported U.S.-origin triethanolamine
to the Ivory Coast and Turkey without obtaining the required authorizations...The
chemicals subject to these controls have legitimate commercial uses but
also have the potential to be used as precursors in chemical weapons.
26 June 2001 Courier
Journal, Louisville, Kentucky
Gaseous Diffusion Plant workers who developed cancer after years of radiation
exposure almost certainly became ill
because of their jobs, a British radiation specialist concluded. However,
critics say the conclusion of Michael Thorne, contained in an affidavit
filed to support a $10 billion lawsuit against the uranium plant's former
operators, is faulty in assessing blame. Thorne is an expert witness being
paid by the plaintiffs. Tomm Sprick (yes, for it is he) a spokesman
for defendant Union Carbide, now part of Dow Chemical, said Thorne's affidavit
was ''one of many documents that have been filed in this case, and our
attorneys will be reviewing this latest filing within the context of the
entire case.'' Did you know that Union Carbide was involved in irradiating
people as well as gassing them?
10 January 2002 Toms
and childhood cancers. "Representatives of 69 families in Toms River,
NJ and three companies Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corporation, Union
Carbide Corporation, and United Water Resources Inc. today announced
a settlement in principle regarding childhood cancer concerns and other
claims of the families." No settlement in Bhopal.
11 January 2002 InjuryBoard.Com
Dow Chemical Inherits Union Carbide's Asbestos Liability.
Chemical Company inherited much more than another chemical supplier when
it acquired Union Carbide Corporation last year. The billion-dollar chemical
maker has settled several asbestos-related lawsuits filed against Carbide,
which once made products containing the toxic material. The latest settlement
involved fourteen Texas plaintiffs. Analysts say that Dow's investors
are concerned because of the increasing number of asbestos-related lawsuits
facing the company. Dow's exposure to Carbide's asbestos liability is
estimated at $150 million."
22 January 2002 Business
case of asbestos exposure at Dow? By
buying Union Carbide, Dow not only became the world's biggest chemicals
company but it also picked up a docket of asbestos liability cases that
industry analysts warn could eat into earnings for years to come. And
just wait till the Bhopal liabilities (nowhere mentioned in this article)
20 March 2002 L.A.
Watch what you
blow your nose with. In the sixties Union Carbide sold asbestos to at
least one paper products manufacturer for use in its facial tissues, according
to a recently discovered document.
11 April 2002 KazanNews
"Dow handling asbestos exposure . . . for now"
has hired some of the best lawyers to defend itself, he said. 'They see
the writing on the wall."
15 May 2002 Port
From the Port Lavaca
Wave, a story of a chemical spill that cleared a children's school. Featuring
none other than your old favourite and ours, Dow Seadrift's ill-starred
PR Leader, Kathy Hunt,
July 2002 Victoria
Dow saved $1.3 billion
in its first year of merger with Union Carbide through "synergies".
This article from the Victoria Business Magazine reveals what those synergies
were. People thrown out of work. Cutting costs and staff contributed to
the Bhopal disaster.
30 July 2002 Cosa
Costra Times "Asbestos verdict nets $4.2 million"
- A jury has awarded a $4.2 million verdict to a cancer-stricken San Ramon
man and his wife for exposure to asbestos-laden plastics when he worked
at the Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard. But the man, Victor Trinchese, may
see only a fraction of that money, because the jury found Union Carbide
only partly at fault.
14 August 2002
Drug firms bowed to pressure from cigarette makers". Dirty Dow
gave in to financial pressure from Philp Morris to downplay its Nicorette
patches designed to help smokers quit, despite knowing the dangers of
smoking. Also on Intellihealth.com
on Smoking and Health (ASH)
16 August 2002 Houston
few months ago, only a handful of people had ever heard of "dead
peasant" life insurance. But word has gotten out now that Dow and
a few other companies have been sued for taking out secret life insurance
policies on their employees and keeping the proceeds when the workers
die. As the widows and widowers file lawsuits to recover the insurance
money, which some judges have ruled rightly belong to the family members,
one well-known Houston law firm is trying to position itself as the expert
for companies to call when family members of deceased employees start
28 August 2002 Midland Daily News, Michigan
testing for dioxin in the Tittabawassee River floodplain has produced
results that range anywhere from normal background level to a dramatic
1,500 parts per trillion and higher in deeper soils. And for the
first time, a food warning comes with the news.
28 August 2002 Midland Daily News, Michigan
from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality met with reporters
and others at the Saginaw Bay office Tuesday to offer more information
about dioxin in the Tittabawassee River floodplain.
24 October 2002 -
Jury Rules Against Union Carbide" CHARLESTON, W.V./NEW YORK (Reuters)
- A West Virginia jury on Thursday found Dow Chemical Co.'s (DOW) Union
Carbide unit exposed workers to asbestos poisoning over a 35-year period,
opening the door to millions of dollars in potential damages.
25 October - Charleston
pay, jury decides - Safe work environment around asbestos not provided,
verdict says. "Union Carbide exposed workers to unreasonable
work conditions for 35 years and should pay for it, a Kanawha County jury
decided Thursday. Between 1945 and 1980, Union Carbide failed to provide
a safe work environment for workers who worked around asbestos fibers,
jurors said. Jurors decided that if future trials determine Union Carbide
is to blame for individual workers illnesses, those workers
monetary awards should be tripled. Plaintiffs attorneys said after
the trial that they were most pleased with that part of the verdict."