Union Carbide Corporation USA
Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), a US based multinational had controlling shareholdings in
the Indian subsidiary Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL). UCC was responsible for the
design, construction, operation and maintenance of the factory in Bhopal. The factory
produced carbaryl pesticides. Sold under the brand names "Sevin" and
"Temic", these pesticides were claimed to control "more than 160 different
harmful insects on 85 different food and fibre crops".
Union Carbide's past achievements
The Corporation has a long history of causing death and injury in different parts of the
world. It holds the record of causing the worst industrial disaster in the USA, in which
2000 workers died of silicosis during the construction of the Hawk's Nest Tunnel in 1930
in West Virginia. In 1981 the Corporation was fined $50,000 for spilling over 25,0000
gallons of propylene oxide, a cancer-causing chemical, in the Kanawha river. In the same
year 402 employees in Union Carbide's Eveready battery factory in Indonesia were suffering
from kidney diseases due to exposure to mercury.
Between January 1980 and 1984, an Environmental Protection Agency investigation
revealed at least 61 leaks of (MIC) at Union Carbide in West Virginia. In Bhopal, prior to
the disaster, environmental safety concerns by private citizens were responded to by legal
threats from the company and repressive managerial measures were employed against workers
who raised occupational health concerns.
Who are they?
The recent news of the US based multinational Dow Chemicals buying over Union Carbide
Corporation for $9.3 billion in stocks has evoked sharp protest from the survivors of the
December 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal. Criminal cases against Union Carbide Corporation 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.
Dow Chemical (Dow) is the second largest US based chemical corporation with over $20
billion in revenues. The chemical giant's history is blemished with the cover-up of
information related to dangerous products such as Agent Orange and the pesticides
DBCP and Dursban.
Dow faces thousands of lawsuits related to silicone breast implants. The corporation is
also under fire as the world's largest producer of chlorine (a byproduct of which is
dioxin), and as a major source of chemicals that contribute to global climate change and
other health and environmental problems.
How do they get away with it?
The chemical giant wields enormous influence in public policy, particularly on
environmental and consumer issues. Much of this influence is well-hidden from the public
because Dow operates through trade associations and corporate coalitions. Such deliberate
concealment makes it nearly impossible to track Dow's influence over key public health
issues and just how much the company has interfered with public policymaking.
Some interesting facts about Dow:
Dow ranks among the world's chlorine producers and consequently, is likely to be the
world's largest root source of dioxin, the most toxic compound known. Dioxin causes
cancer, and has been linked with birth defects and fertility problems.
Farm workers sued Dow for sterility caused by exposure to DBCP, a pesticide banned in the
US that the corporation continued to market internationally. DBCP may also cause cancer
and birth defects.
Number of years Dow knew about Dioxin in Agent Orange before reporting it to the US
Veterans who filed claims against Dow for injuries from Agent Orange.
Louisiana families relocated due to the threat of groundwater contamination from Dow's
US environmental fines paid by Dow in 1995.
Increase in Dow's profits in 1995 from 1994.
Fine against Dow Elanco, the largest in the history of the EPA, for failure to report
information about adverse health effects of the insecticide Dursban.
EPA fine for hazardous waste violations at Midland, Michigan facility.