National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

Memorandum presented to Dow by Bhopal survivors at their India headquarters, Corporate Park, Chembur, Mumbai  

To
Michael D. Parker
President & Chief Executive Officer
The Dow Chemical Company

Via
Mr Ravi Mutukrishnan
Managing Director
Dow Chemical International Private Ltd.
Unit 1, Corporate Park
Chembur
Mumbai

                                                                      Wednesday 28th February 2001

Mr Parker,

On the recent completion of your company’s merger with the Union Carbide Corporation and in the context of your ongoing plans for large scale investment in India, we wish to present the following on behalf of the National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

The National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal is a network of peoples’ organisations committed to securing justice regarding the issue of the December 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal.

As you may be aware over 20,000 people have died in Bhopal in the last 16 years and the death toll continues to rise by 10-15 every month. There are still over 120,000 chronically ill survivors desperately in need of medical attention. You must also know that the Union Carbide Corporation from the time of the disaster to this day withheld vital medical information and seriously impeding the medical care of survivors in Bhopal.

Young people who were exposed to the toxic gases in their mother’s wombs and even those born to gas exposed parents suffer from retardation in physical growth and mental development. Severe menstrual irregularities are common. Latent carcinogenic effects of Union Carbide’s gases have led to an alarming rise of cancers in the gas exposed population. Due to exposure-induced impairment of the immune system, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are three times more prevalent in Bhopal than in unexposed populations. We are also very concerned about the many children born with deformities as a result of their parents’ exposure to Union Carbide’s chemical cocktail that included methyl isocyanate, hydrogen cyanide, mono-methylamine and at least 20 others.

Over 5000 survivors of the disaster who live in the vicinity of the abandoned Union Carbide factory are drinking water contaminated with cancer causing and other toxic chemicals. This hazardous contamination is a result of the reckless dumping of chemical waste by Union Carbide and its magnitude has been well documented. The Citizen’s Environmental Laboratory in Boston, Greenpeace and even the Indian government’s own laboratories have reported severe contamination.

While the disaster continues in Bhopal, former Chairman, Warren Anderson, and the authorised representatives of the Union Carbide Corporation continue to abscond from the Bhopal court and have been for the last nine years.

We know for a fact that in the course of the merger you wilfully suppressed the pending criminal liabilities of the Union Carbide Corporation. Your shareholders have not been fooled and have filed a class action suit charging you, 16 of your colleagues and the company, with causing potential financial harm by merging with Union Carbide. The earlier class action suit filed by us against UCC and Anderson is, as you know, ongoing.

We are given to understand that our country figures high in your future investment plans. We know of the four subsidiaries you operate here and your immediate plans for investing U.S $1 billion. We also know that we have the power to disrupt your business plans in India. We are today launching our campaign against the production and sale of Dursban – the neurotoxic household chemical that you were forced to withdraw in the U.S last year.

We now look forward to your response to our following demands:

  • Accept the pending criminal and other liabilities of the Union Carbide Corporation related to death and injury in Bhopal, and make adequate payments for long-term medical care, research and monitoring of victims.
  • Release the medical information on the leaked gases withheld by UCC, as a "trade secret".
  • Pay for the economic rehabilitation of families impoverished as a result of the disaster.
  • Clean up the contaminated soil and groundwater in and around the Bhopal factory.

…..And while you are at it, we would much appreciate you telling us why you have withdrawn Dursban in the U.S and are now promoting it full on in India. What possible justification can you have for this double standard?

We present you this memorandum with a knock at your door. If we do not hear from you in the next two weeks at the address given below we will take that to mean that we need to knock harder.

We hope that you and your colleagues will give this matter some serious thought. We look forward to your quick response.

The National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
Contact: A542 Housing Board Colony, Aishbag, Bhopal 462 001

A national network comprising:
Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Group for Information & Action
Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti
Maharashtra Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti
Indian Federation of Trade Unions
Nari Atyachar Virodni Manch
Lokshahi Hakk Sangajhana
Sarva Mazdoor Sangh