Bhopal survivors oppose Dow’s out-of-court clean up offer

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karamchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Press statement
BHOPAL. Sep 5, 2007 — Organizations working on issues of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today expressed vehement opposition to American multinational Dow Chemical Company’s recently reported attempts to take its liabilities in Bhopal out of court. The organizations stated that Dow has recently written to several government departments offering to clean up the toxic waste in Bhopal on the condition that the Indian Government waives its legal liabilities.
The organizations said that the Indian government must not waive Dow Chemical’sliabilities. According to them Bhopal victims have been betrayed by the Indian government in the 1989 settlement with Union Carbide and they will not tolerate another betrayal.
Responding to a news article prominently featured in a recent issue of Economic Times, Champa Devi, one of the leaders of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, said that more than twenty five thousand persons who have been drinking contaminated groundwater have been harmed due to Union Carbide’s recklessly dumped toxic wastes.
Champa Devi’s grand daughter was born with a cleft lip and missing palate, a condition usually common among children born in families living in the vicinity of the Union Carbide factory that was the site of the world’s worst industrial disaster in December 1984.
According to Satinath Sarangi, whose organization Bhopal Group for Information and Action first found out about the toxic contamination of soil and ground water in 1990, the chemicals leaching from the industrial waste include those that cause birth defects and cancers and damage to the lungs, kidney and liver.
While the presence of toxic chemicals in the groundwater has been confirmed by the MP Pollution Control Board and the Public Health Engineering Department, the State government’s Centre for Rehabilitation Studies has last year confirmed that residents in the vicinity of the factory have an excess of diseases related to skin, eye, lungs and abdomen.
The organizations said that the toxic contamination and consequent health damages in Bhopal are a result of reckless dumping of chemical wastes generated in the pesticide factory. They said that the unsafe disposal of hazardous waste was inherent in the original plans of the factory drawn up by Union Carbide Corporation, USA.
Accordingto them as the current owner of Union Carbide, Dow Chemical is liable to pay damages for soil and groundwater contamination up to 3 kilometers from the factory and for health damages among the neighbourhood population.
Recognizing the liability of Dow Chemical, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has sought an advance of Rs. 100 crores from the American multinational through anapplication in the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The organizations of Bhopal survivors said that the government must not succumb to Dow Chemical’s pressure to withdraw this application and must ensure that Dow pays adequate compensation to the victims.
Rashida Bee, Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, 09302432298
Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, 09329026319
Rachna Dhingra, Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, 09826167369

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