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The Jhaadoo Maaro Campaign "Beat Dow with a broom" launched in Bhopal on 6 October (see foot of this page) has already pierced to the heart of Dow Chemical and humiliated its CEO Michael Parker at what was meant to be a moment of "green glory" for his company.

This was just one blow in a week of seriously bad news for Dow.

The Indian Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) says that following Union Carbide's continuing refusal to appear in court in Bhopal to answer criminal charges of 'culpable homicide', the CBI is moving to name Dow Chemical, Carbide's 100% owner, as Accused #10 in the case. Dow will face the homicide charge thus far ignored by its subsidiary, and all Dow assets, operations and investments in India will be at risk if it ignores or defies the Court, which has already seized all Carbide's Indian assets.
Extradition proceedings against former Carbide CEO Warren Anderson are in their final stages, CBI prosecutor Sahay tells the Bhopal Court. A formal Indian request for Anderson's extradition will create a new public relations nightmare for Dow, which has always maintained that its subsidiary Carbide had fulfilled all its legal obligations in India and that there were no outstanding legal issues.
The Government of Madhya Pradesh, the Indian State of which Bhopal is the capital, announces that it will ask the Indian Supreme Court to compel Dow Chemical to pay for the clean up of the derelict Union Carbide factory site, which is heavily contaminated with dangerous chemicals. A report released on 30 September by The People's Science Institute, Dehra Dun, found high concentrations of mercury and other toxins in the drinking water of local communities. 1,000 babies born each year in these areas are nursing on breast milk that contains lead and mercury originating from the plant. In 1999 a Greenpeace study recorded mercury at levels up to six million times higher than might have been expected.
Indian Central Government Minister of State for Home Affairs I D Swamy and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha in separate interviews tell reporters that India is proceeding with an application to extradite Carbide's ex-CEO Warren Anderson from the US.
At Dow’s European headquarters in Horgen, Switzerland, Bhopali granny Champa Devi's jhaadoo scares Dow's European CEO Lusciano Respini so much that he runs from the room. Speaking on behalf of all the survivors' organisations, Champa tells Dow where it can stick its meaningless offer to make "a humanitarian gesture" in Bhopal and says that the company will have to face up to its legal liabilities.
HOUSTON, TEXAS. A keynote speech at a $75-a-head environmental business luncheon turns into embarrassment for Dow Chemical CEO Michael Parker when the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) interrupts to present him with a jhaadoo and tell his audience that lead and mercury leaching from Carbide's abandoned and derelict factory have been found in the breast-milk of women living nearby. The drinking wells stink of chemicals and the water tastes fiery. Dow Chemical, as 100% owner of Union Carbide, inherits Carbide's criminal and environmental liabilities in Bhopal and must clean up.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh has a meeting with survivors' groups and Greenpeace to discuss guidelines drawn up by Greenpeace scientists for the clean-up of Carbide's abandoned factory site. The report is simultaneously handed to Dow offices in India, Europe and the USA. Clean-up costs could end up costing Dow Chemical more than $500 million.

Dow investors and analysts may be interested to work out for themselves the potential liabilities faced by their company.
Dow can hardly go on denying that it has a legal problem in India. It can no longer rely on its old PR soundbyte about the 1989 settlement extinguishing all criminal liablities. That settlement was appealed and was amended by an Indian Supreme Court judgement in 1991 which reinstituted the criminal charges. By not acknowledging this fact, first Carbide, then Dow, have in effect lied to their shareholders for years. Dow, as predicted by those of its shareholders who opposed the 2001 merger, has now been dragged into the criminal case and the question of criminal liabilities remains wide open. Should judgement go against it, the company will face huge criminal damages.

As we have already seen, the 1989 settlement figure of $470 million was pitifully inadequate. It gave most survivors just $500 each, which was not enough to cover the cost of medicines in the first year after Carbide's poison gas leak, let alone the eighteen years which have elapsed. The future health care of survivors becomes the company's responsibility. Harmful effects of the gases have now begun appearing in the second and third generations of Bhopal citizens living near the plant. Their future health care will have to be taken into account. Many thousands of people were unable to work after they were exposed to Carbide's gases and were driven to destitution. Reparation will duly have to be made to them.

The official death-toll from the poison gas leak already stands at more than 20,000. Families of victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York have been awarded around $1,000,000 for their suffering. Suffering is a universal human experience, not dependent on geography or social status. The anguish of a mother in Bhopal is just as grievous as the anguish of a mother in Brooklyn.
The abandoned factory site is polluted by some of the most dangerous chemical poisons on the planet. Both soil and ground-water are contaminated. The Greenpeace guidelines presented this week to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh –who is petitioning the Supreme Court to make Dow pay for the clean-up – specify that the clean-up should be carried out to standards which operate inWestern countries.

Ruth Stringer, scientist from Greenpeace Research Laboratory, Exeter University (UK) and co-author of the technical guidelines said "Clean-up should be aimed to remove all detectable contamination from the site wherever technologically possible.Where this is not possible, final concentrations should be based on the highest standards applicable at the intergovernmental level (eg WHO limits for drinking water) or, where these do not exist, the most stringent limits applicable in the USA or other industrialised countries." Download the Greenpeace guidlines here. (735K PDF )

Costs may exceed $500 million.What Dow shareholders urgently need to realise is that the 1989 settlement did not and does not cover the issue of contamination. Union Carbide systematically dumped lethal chemicals for years before and after the gas leak. People living in communities near the factory have been exposed for upwards of two decades to Carbide's poisons, the lists of which read like a toxicologist's nightmare.

A Class Action suit brought by survivors and their supporters against Union Carbide on this issue is currently underway in New York. We will keep you informed of progress.

It has been a bleak week for Dow. There is worse to come. Watch this space.