DOW must pay for Union Carbide's crimes in Bhopal
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Union Carbide Corporation, USA is the principal author of the December 2nd-3rd, 1984 poisonous gas disaster in Bhopal. Over 20,000 people in Bhopal have died to date from exposure-related diseases and their complications. The death toll continues to rise by 10-15 each month. Over 120,000 survivors in Bhopal suffer from chronic diseases of the respiratory, ophthalmic, gastro-intestinal, reproductive, nervous, musculo-skeletal, immune and other systems. There is an alarming rise of cancers and tuberculosis in the exposed population. Exposure-related chromosomal aberrations indicate the likelihood of birth defects among future generations of survivors.


Absconding Justice

UCC continues to withhold medical information on the leaked chemicals, seriously impeding medical treatment of gas victims. Tens of thousands of people are unable to earn a living and their families are facing starvation. Over 95% of the survivors have received only about Rs. 15,000 as compensation.

The pesticide factory in Bhopal remains closed but over 5000 families in the neighbouring communities are still forced to drink water contaminated with Carbide’s chemical wastes that contain carcinogenic and other toxic chemicals.

Immediately after the disaster, Warren Anderson, Chairman of UCC, and other Indian officials were arrested on charges of culpable homicide, grievous assault, criminal conspiracy and other serious offences. Warren Anderson was released on the same day on Rs.20,000 bail. Since then UCC and Anderson have continued to ignore summons from the Bhopal court and have been declared absconders. Most of money paid by the company as settlement came from their insurance. The massacre in Bhopal cost the company about 48 cents per share!

Despite their best efforts to cover up the enormity of their crimes, the name BHOPAL has been and will continue to be a source of negative PR. Aware of this, Union Carbide began to erase it's name in 1992. Union Carbide Eastern, Hong Kong, another accused in the Bhopal case was reshuffled and given a new name. The Central Bureau of Investigation, prosecutors in the criminal case, has stated in court that it now has no means to proceed against the Hong Kong based company.

The Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide was renamed Eveready Industries India Limited in 1994 after shares were sold off to the Khaitan Group. The merger with The Dow Chemical Company is the final vanishing act of Union Carbide.

CARBIDE'S CRIMES

  • UCC started out as a carbon company in 1886 and diversified to gases and chemicals during WWI. From the Manhattan project of WWII until 1984, UCC was contracted to the U.S government’s nuclear weapons production programme.
  • As part of UCC’s economy drive, factory management in Bhopal switched the refrigeration unit off to save Rs.700 (U.S$50) a day. Had it been working, a runaway reaction in the MIC tank could have been delayed or even prevented.
  • Costcutting measures included reducing the MIC plant crew from 12 to 6. In the control room, there was only 1 operator to monitor 70+ panels. Safety training was cut from 6 months to 15 days.
  • At the 'identical' U.S West Virginia MIC plant, all vital systems had back-ups automatically linked to computerised alarms and crises control systems. The sole manual alarm in Bhopal was switched off so as not to 'unduly' alarm people.
  • Dr. Max Daunderer showed how sodium thiosulphate injections could provide relief. But UCC succeeded in undermining attempts at large scale administration. They realised that this would establish that toxins had indeed reached the bloodstream and caused much more damage than they would like people to believe.
  • UCC told people to "just wash with water", and that the poisonous gas that had till then, killed over 8000 was "nothing more than a potent tear gas."
  • UCC used its influence to obtain an order from the Supreme Court of India that allowed it to sell off its Indian shares (valued at Rs. 290 crores) which had been confiscated for absconding in Bhopal. The Bhopal Hospital Trust and the clinics set up with this fund have been found to be causing damage to the survivors through harmful medication.