On the 37th Anniversary of the World’s Worst Industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, a Call to Action to End Discrimination by Dow Inc
In 1984 without warning a poorly designed and recklessly maintained Union Carbide pesticides factory gushed 27 tons of poison gas into the Indian city of Bhopal. In a few hours thousands were dead, and tens of thousands maimed.
Those who survived that night of horror escaped with their lives but not their health. Over the first ten years Bhopal suffered on average three gas-related deaths every day. Even today, almost four decades on, survivors suffer breathlessness, body pains, weeping sores, failing kidneys, liver disease, ruined eyes, menstrual chaos and cancers. Impacts on the next generations are profound, and children are born in high numbers with physical and mental impairments.
Carbide abandoned its factory without cleaning up thousands of tons of toxic wastes routinely dumped in and around the grounds. Drinking wells of communities housing over 100,000 people are contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals and dangerously poisonous chemicals. Cancer-causing and mutagenic chemicals have been found in the breast milk of nursing mothers.
93% of survivors were paid $500 in compensation via a settlement struck between India and Carbide that consulted not one victim. Criminal prosecution for around 25,000 has not concluded, due to the refusal of the key accused to show up in court. Efforts to enforce clean up have run aground.
Dow Inc’s (formerly Dow Chemical) treatment of the survivors of its wholly-owned subsidiary (since 2001) Union Carbide’s gas disaster is a classic form of discrimination, one which systematically denies people their full human rights because of their colour, race, ethnicity, or national origin.
Dow’s dehumanizing attitude to difference doesn’t only begin outside its own borders. Dow is the worst industrial polluter contributing to cancer in poor communities and communities of color in the United States. But Dow does, at least, submit to legal enforcement actions in the US.
When it comes to the legal and human rights of Bhopal survivors in India, Dow systematically denies their rights, on an equal basis with others, revealing a deep institutional racial prejudice and a contempt for equality, and the rule of law.
Five ways Dow Discriminates & Dehumanizes