emotions Bhopal evokes in Dow/Carbide are fear and contempt: fear
of being found guilty in a criminal case they are fugitives from,
and contempt for their victims and the law.
says: The 1984 gas leak in Bhopal was a terrible tragedy which understandably
continues to evoke strong emotions even 20 years later. In the wake
of the gas release, Union Carbide Corporation, and then- chairman
Warren Anderson, worked diligently to provide aid to the victims
and set up a process to resolve their claims. All claims arising
out of the release were settled 15 years ago at the explicit direction
and approval of the Supreme Court of India.
facts: In the wake of the disaster, Carbide and Warren Anderson
worked diligently to delay legal proceedings, misinform doctors,
hide assets and deny adequate relief. Civil claims were ended 13
years ago: environmental damages, criminal charges and, potentially,
punitive damages remain pending.
says: The Bhopal plant was owned and operated by Union Carbide India,
Limited (UCIL), an Indian company in which Union Carbide Corporation
held just over half the stock. The other stockholders included Indian
financial institutions and thousands of private investors in India.
The plant was designed, built, and managed by UCIL using Indian
consultants and workers. In 1994, Union Carbide sold its half interest
in UCIL to MacLeod Russell (India) Limited of Calcutta, and UCIL
was renamed Eveready Industries India, Limited. After the disaster,
plant owner UCIL obtained permission from the government to conduct
cleanup work at the site. Later, Eveready Industries continued this
remediation effort until 1998 when the state government of Madyah
(sic) Pradesh assumed control of the site and its remediation.
facts: Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) held a majority 50.9% stake
in Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), through which it enacted
control of management, budgets, operating and safety procedures
and profits, as per corporate policy. The plant design was plotted
and overseen on an ongoing basis by US based Carbide engineers,
one of whom was employed as works manager until the end of 1982.
In 1994, Carbide controversially, and against the wishes of the
Bhopal court where it faced criminal charges, sold its UCIL shares,
which had anyhow been attached by the court due to Carbide absconding
from the criminal case. Despite the directions of the local government
and evidence of severe community water poisoning, UCIL failed to
clean up the contamination around the site. After Eveready Industries,
its new guise, fled its responsibilities, the government filed legal
suit to force it to clean up. This was soon followed by a survivors'
suit against Carbide in New York that is now close to trial.
says: As a result of the sale their shares in UCIL, Union Carbide
retained no interest in - or liability for - the Bhopal site, and
Eveready Industries took exclusive possession of the land under
lease from the government of Madhya Pradesh. The proceeds of the
UCIL sale were placed in a trust and exclusively used to fund a
hospital in Bhopal, which now provides specialist care to victims
of the tragedy.
facts: The polluter Carbide oversaw the failed remediation until
at least 1995, hid internal reports dating back to 1989 that showed
the pollution to be lethal, and watched its US-trained manager complete
the abandonment of the site with keen interest yet refuses to pay
for clean up in contradiction of US, Indian and international law.
The Bhopal hospital, ordered by the Supreme Court and paid for by
the criminal court's attachments, took nearly nine years to build
and has been heavily criticised for its practises. See earlier news
stories on www.bhopal.net.
says: Shortly after the gas release, Union Carbide launched an aggressive
effort to identify the cause. A thorough investigation was conducted
by the engineering consulting fi rm Arthur D. Little. Its conclusion:
The gas leak could only have been caused by deliberate sabotage.
Someone purposely put water in the gas storage tank, causing a massive
chemical reaction. Process safety systems had been put in place
that would have kept the water from entering into the tank by accident.
facts: Straight after the deaths of at least 8,000 people, Carbide
launched an aggressive effort to obscure the cause. The disaster
could not have happened without the incautious design, poor materials,
understaffing and inadequate safety systems caused by reckless cost-cutting,
but Carbide hired Arthur D Little to provide pseudo-scientific backing
to its utterly derided sabotage theory. An adequate set of safety
processes would have anyway made sabotage impossible.
says: Union Carbide, along with the rest of the chemical industry,
has worked to develop and globally implement Responsible Care in
order to prevent any future events through improving community awareness,
emergency preparedness, and process safety standards.
facts: Union Carbide and Dow's CEOs developed the PR programme 'Responsible
Care' to fend off legislative regulation of the chemical industry.
In Bhopal, lest we forget, there was no emergency plan, no community
information and a process safety system that required workers to
act as leak detectors.
more Dow statements: For
more information about Bhopal.
For more information about Union Carbide.
For more information about Responsible Care. And also here.
the facts: For
more information about Bhopal. And also here.
For more information about Dow/Carbide. Also
this excellent page.
For more information about Responsible Care.