DOW CHEMICALS ACCEPTS BROOMS, CONTAMINATED SOIL AND WATER FROM BHOPAL SURVIVORS; WILL RECOMMEND REMEDIATION MEASURES


Bombay/ December 2, 2002: In a major step forward, Dow Chemicals, India, accepted contaminated soil, water and brooms from the Bhopal gas affected survivors and their international supporters on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster. Mr. Anand Vohra, Director Finance, Dow Chemicals, assured the delegation from the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, that he would personally recommend to "higher authorities"‚ in Dow that remediation measures be undertaken to alleviate the suffering of the gas affected people.

The activists of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal also delivered to Dow Chemical more than 4000 brooms collected from Bhopal, Chennai and Trivandrum and told the company to clean up Bhopal and address all pending liabilities without further delay. Dow Chemical, which acquired Union Carbide in February 2001, has refused to address Carbide‚s pending liabilities in Bhopal.

Last October, gas-affected women issued an international appeal to people asking them to collect used jhadoos (brooms) to use against Dow. "In India, the broomstick is a woman's weapon. Being struck by a jhadoo is the ultimate insult, and we feel that Dow deserves this treatment. By delivering jhadoos to Dow, we‚re telling the company to clean up its mess in Bhopal or be prepared to be swept out of the planet," said Mrs. Champa Devi Shukla, a gas victim and leader of a woman‚s trade union of gas-affected women workers. "Dow‚s reluctance so far, to clean up the contamination and take responsibility for the pending liabilities in Bhopal is poisoning people daily and aggravating the sufferings of survivors and their children," she said.

Union Carbide Corporation‚s confidential internal documents released recently (See "Poison Papers") reveal that the company knew about the extent and nature of contamination at the Bhopal factory site. However, Union Carbide did little to clean up the contamination before handing over the site to the State Government.

Hundred of tonnes of highly toxic waste lies abandoned at the pesticide factory site since the multi-national fled the country after a poisonous gas leak at its plant caused the world's worst industrial disaster, killing 8,000 people in its immediate aftermath. More than 20,000 people have died till date. At least one person a day still dies from gas-exposure related diseases and 150,000 are in urgent need of medical attention. The poisons have seeped into groundwater and a recent study by Fact Finding Mission, New Delhi has found high levels of mercury in mother‚s milk, residing around the factory.

„Although the containment action by ICJB members on November 25th was brutally thwarted by the Bhopal Police, we will continue targeting Dow with reminders of its ongoing crimes against the victims of the world‚s worst disaster until Dow cleans up the contamination in Bhopal, and ensure that it addresses all pending issues including provision of medical and economic rehabilitation,‰ said Von Hernandez, spokesperson for Greenpeace International.

"Over the coming months, Dow will have to face up to growing public opposition to its irresponsible behavior in India. Already, people of Mumbai have been alerted of their unfriendly neighbor," said Vinod Shetty, Mumbai convenor for the National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. "We‚ll continue to build public opinion against Dow Chemical until it owns up to its liabilities in Bhopal," he said.

For more information contact :

In Mumbai: Shweta Narayan. Tel: 9820659202
In Bhopal.Rashida Bi. Tel: 9827238637
www.bhopal.net ; www.greenpeace.org
Shailendra Yashwant Tel - ++ 91-9823042490