Press Statement August 8, 1999
The recent news of the U.S.-based multinational Dow Chemicals proposal to buy out Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) for 9.3 billion dollars in stocks has evoked sharp protest from the survivors of the December 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal. The disaster caused by the leakage of toxic chemicals from a pesticide factory owned by Union Carbide has led to the death of thousands of people and well over 100,000 continue to suffer from a range of multi-systemic diseases. Criminal cases against UCC are still pending in the Bhopal district court and there is fresh evidence of environmental damage caused by the company around its factory in Bhopal.
Representatives of survivors organisations in Bhopal today condemned the merger of UCC with Dow to become the "second largest toxic behemoth in the world". The three survivors organisations have together sent a memorandum to the Chief Executive Officer of Dow Chemicals reminding him of the liabilities arising from the disaster in Bhopal. Liabilities from causing thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of injuries, withholding medical information and contaminating ground water and soil have been listed by the organisations. They have demanded that Dow Chemicals inform them of plans to discharge these liabilities.
Abdul Jabbar, Convenor, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, mentioned that both UCC and Dow Chemicals are guilty of crimes against humanity. According to him "while Union Carbide, through its reckless profit seeking, perpetrated the worlds worst industrial massacre, Dow Chemicals is guilty of producing Agent Orange that maimed hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people and caused horrific birth defects."
Balkrishna Namdeo, Convenor, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morch, pointed out that the international environment organisation, Greenpeace, has found that chlorine-based products produced by Dow Chemical, including PVC plastics, pesticides, and solvents ,constitute the world's largest source of dioxins the most toxic chemical in the world. He said "As the Dioxin King, Dow Chemicals is responsible for causing a variety of cancers, endometriosis, declining fertility, immune system suppression and birth defects all over the world. Dows merger with Union Carbide makes it an even greater threat to life and health of people all over the world. "
Rashida Bi, President, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, stated that Dow was found to have "deliberately withheld information that its silicone breast implants could cause fatal autoimmune disorders and repiratory damage." She said "Both Dow and Union Carbide have a history of criminal insensitivity towards health of women, their merger should agitate women all over the world ".
Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action stated that the merger of the two companies, both part of the "military industrial complex", raises significant concerns regarding global security and the environment. "In view of strict U.S. federal anti-trust laws," he said, " the proposed merger of these two U.S. based giant corporations could well be challenged legally".