A warning at the factory gates: friends, you are going in to possible death

ACTIVISTS DEMONSTRATE SAFE CONTAINMENT, DEMAND INTERNATIONALLY ACCEPTED HAZARDOUS WASTE MANAGEMENT PROTOCOLS BE DEPLOYED AT UNION CARBIDE SITE
BHOPAL, 9 June 2005: In order to demonstrate proper and safe hazardous waste containment protocols, ICJB campaigners set up a kiosk at the gates of the Union Carbide plant displaying Personal Protective Equipment and their use through simple posters and live demos.
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To highlight unacceptable containment practices, the activists also displayed recent pictures of the shocking and callous procedures of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief & Rehabilitation Department and the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) that have exposed workers to deadly toxic wastes.
With the state agencies announcing that a Hyderabad based company will commence ground waste containment on the 12th of June, the activists sent a clear message to the company and local authorities that only internationally practiced protocols for handling and containing the wastes would be acceptable. We have already submitted Union Carbide Site Clean-Up Protocols by the Greenpeace Science Unit to the above mentioned state agencies.
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“The MPPCB’s inaction while workers inhaled toxic dust and handled poisonous chemicals with their bare hands is deplorable. We cannot stand and watch such a travesty happen,” said Vinuta Gopal, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India. “The authorities have yet to share the protocols that will be used to contain the wastes on the site, so we have decided to set up this kiosk to inform, monitor and bear witness to the containment process so that no further infringement takes place.”
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“Exposing men, women and children employed to handle toxic chemicals with their bare hands is a criminal act under sections 283 and 284 of the Indian Penal Code,” said Rachna Dhingra of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. “We will take action against the concerned authorities for perpetrating this crime. We will also monitor the health of the workers exposed to the toxins.”
This temporary containment is by no means the end to cleaning the site, but rather a small, temporary and long delayed first step. The Government of India, in its communication last June to the US Manhattan District Court, where Union Carbide faces a class action suit brought by victims of contaminated factory, indicated that it has ‘No Objection’ to the courts holding Union Carbide responsible for the complete remediation of the site and surrounding areas. Sources in the Government have also indicated that they will not do anything to ‘shift the responsibility from the Polluter’.
The ICJB is calling on the MPPCB and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief & Rehabilitation to ensure the following immediately:
1. That the clean-up plans and protocols be made public and that the government demonstrates a clear mechanism to recover costs from Union Carbide.
2. That the authorities allow independent experts, community representatives and NGOs to monitor the containment to ensure complete transparency and accountability as well as best safety standards for the workers and surrounding communities.
3. That people employed in the containment process be properly trained to handle these wastes and be provided with the Personal Protective Equipment required for such process.
Footnotes
1. Photographs and background here. For higher resolution shots, please email editor@bhopal.net or icjb@bhopal.net.
2. “Technical Guidelines for the Clean up of the Union Carbide Site” available online at Greenpeace India website.
3. For further documents and reports and latest updates Bhopal, please keep checking this website, www.bhopal.net
For further information, please contact:
Rachna Dhingra, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal +91 9826167369
Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh: +91 9303132298
Syed. M. Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha: +91 9329026319
Shahid Noor, Bhopal Ki Aawaaz: +91 9303122784
Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace India: vgopal@dialb.greenpeace.org +91 9845535418

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