Members of Congress tell Dow to clean up Bhopal

Members of Congress tell Dow to clean up Bhopal

For immediate release: June 17, 2009

CONTACT: Shana Ortman, ICJB Coordinator, (415)-746-0306,
Tony Millard, ICJB Spokesperson, (708)-606-8142,

Nearly 30 House members support Bhopal survivors’ demands of U.S. chemical maker

Download the entire signed letter here (large pdf file).

Survivors of the ongoing chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, secured a major victory Tuesday, as 27 members of Congress wrote to Dow Chemical Company CEO Andrew Liveris and Dow’s Board of Directors, urging the company to face their criminal and civil liabilities for the tragedy that occurred at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in December 1984. The letter endorsed the survivors’ demands for remediation—as put forth by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB)—chiefly that Dow provide medical and economic rehabilitation and clean up the factory and groundwater contamination.

Congressman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) led the effort to support the ICJB demands. A coalition of Bhopal survivors and their supporters worldwide, ICJB is working to force Dow to face trial in India and to pay for the disaster cleanup. Nearly a quarter-century after the initial disaster, the factory sits in ruins, with toxic chemicals strewn about the grounds, just yards from the homes of thousands of Bhopali families.

“After 25 years, the human and environmental tragedy of the Bhopal chemical disaster remains with us,” Pallone said. “While thousands continue to suffer, Union Carbide and its successor, Dow Chemical, have yet to be brought to justice. I appreciate the efforts of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal to raise awareness of the plight of the people of Bhopal. Members of Congress will continue to fight against companies that evade civil and criminal liability by exploiting international borders and legal jurisdictions.”

ICJB advocates say broad support from across the United States is a reflection of the enthusiasm generated by the recent national tour led by two Bhopal second-generation survivors, Safreen Khan and Sarita Malviya, both 16, who live with their families in one of the water-contaminated communities. The survivors met with Pallone and other members of Congress in Washington D.C. on their tour.

“The water contamination left by Union Carbide has poisoned two generations in Bhopal, and Union Carbide’s owner, the Dow Chemical Company, is responsible for cleaning up the contamination, “ ICJB’s U.S. Coordinator Shana Ortman said. “25 years is too long to wait for justice or for clean water. We are pleased to stand alongside 27 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in calling on Dow to follow the rule of law in India, and face their liabilities for this tragedy—the world’s worst industrial disaster.”

The following members of Congress signed onto the letter: Ackerman (NY), Baldwin (WI), Blumenauer (OR), Brady (PA), Capuano (MA), Clarke (NY), Faleomavaega (AS), Fattah (PA), Grijalva (AZ), Higgins (NY), Hinchey (NY), Honda (CA), Jackson Lee (TX), Kucinich (OH), Langevin (RI), Lee (CA), Markey (MA), McDermott (WA), McGovern (MA), Nadler (NY), Oberstar (MN), Pallone (NJ), Payne (NJ), Schakowsky (IL), Schiff (CA), Stark (CA), Tonko (NY).

Nearly half a million people were exposed to poisonous methyl isocyanate during a runaway chemical reaction at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal on December 3, 1984. Since then, more than 22,000 people have died and 150,000 survivors continue to be chronically ill, as the Indian government and Dow have repeatedly failed to address their role in the atrocities of this ongoing disaster in Bhopal.

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