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Dow under global siege on December 3rd

More than 65 events in 16 countries marked the first Global day of Action Against Corporate Crime in commemoration of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster. Members of unions, students, grassroots organisations, politicians, NGOs, individuals and Bhopal survivors were amongst the people taking part yesterday. Directors of Dow and regional headquarters have been confronted by protestors offering evidence of ongoing crimes in Bhopal.

Students across the US delivered samples of contaminated water from Bhopal to the homes of eleven of Dow’s fourteen Board members, including the CEO, William Stavropoulos. At Princeton University Dow director Harold Shapiro was given contaminated water from Bhopal communities. “We feel that this was a clear admission of liability on the part of Dow-Carbide,” said Sujata Ray, a member of Students for Bhopal. “Now that Dow-Carbide has accepted a sample of this contamination, thanks to Mr. Shapiro, we hope that the company will act swiftly to clean up its remaining pollution in Bhopal. Until it does so, we intend to continue and intensify our organizing here at Princeton and across the country.”

In Mumbai over 100 students, volunteers and activists lay down on the pavement on Marine Drive to recreate the horror of Bhopal. Chalk outlines were drawn around the ‘bodies’ on Marine Drive and banners displayed saying ‘Remember Bhopal’ and ‘Dow – you have the blood of Bhopal on your hands.’ “Bhopal has become the icon for corporate negligence resulting in death and destruction, representing the thousand Bhopal-like disasters that take place all across India,” said Vinod Shetty, an eminent lawyer and ICJB activist.

In Switzerland, ICJB member Greenpeace delivered a replica of the memorial statue that stands outside the factory in Bhopal to Dow’s European headquarters in Horgen. In Copenhagen, Greenpeace activists also drew the outline of corpses on the ground in front of the Dow offices while others protested in front of the American Embassy. Greenpeace also announced a campaign to invite people around the world send a toxic message in a bottle to Dow.

In the Scottish parliament, Scottish Socialist Party MP Frances Curran presented a Bhopal motion (S2M-668 Frances Curran: Bhopal Anniversary) reiterating each of the survivors’ demands to Dow. In London, members of the Global Women’s Strike and the ICJB used a sound system to broadcast facts about Dow and Bhopal to the Houses of Parliament. “War profiteers Dow-Carbide sold huge amounts of pesticides that cause death by asphyxiation to Iraq, nine months after Halabja,” said the ICJB’s Tim Edwards, “the gassing of Halabja was used by the US and Britain as one reason to mobilise a war against Iraq. Yet the gassing of Bhopal, a much larger city than Halabja, has left Dow-Carbide carrying on business as usual. They must be brought to justice.”

In Bhopal, survivors have been exhilarated by events. “This year with help from supporters worldwide we have succeeded in pressuring the Indian government to move on the extradition of Warren Anderson and have mobilized international opinion against Union Carbide’s new owner Dow Chemical at an unprecedented scale. As we enter the 20th year of our struggle for justice, there are protests against Dow Chemical all over India and the world,” said Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh (BGPMSKS). BGPMSKS, a trade union of gas-affected stationery workers in Bhopal is also the co-convenor of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. “We are confident that we will be able to force Dow Chemical and the Indian government to address pending liabilities in Bhopal.”

A huge huge thanks and big Bhopali hugs to all those who have taken part in the Global day of action. Please keep checking the GDA updates page for more news and details of the international actions as they come in.



Students from 26 colleges, universities and high schools organized nationwide protests against Dow Chemical yesterday, Dec. 3rd, as a part of the first-annual Global Day of Action Against Corporate Crime. Dow Chemical, which was key manufacturer of chemical warfare agents Napalm and Agent Orange, faced such widespread protests for the first time since the Vietnam War due to its February 2001 acquisition of Union Carbide — the perpetrator of the Bhopal disaster. The protests, organized by Students for Bhopal , Association for India’s Development (AID) chapters, and the Environmental Justice Program of the Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) , called on Dow to accept its moral and legal responsibility for the world’s worst industrial disaster.

On December 3rd, 1984, a toxic cloud of gas from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, enveloped the surrounding city, leaving thousands dead. More than 20,000 have died till date and more than 120,000 people still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure. Chemicals and heavy metals that Union Carbide abandoned at the site—including mercury, trichloroethene, chloroform, and lead—have contaminated the water supply for 20,000 Bhopal residents. Despite acquiring Union Carbide, Dow Chemical has refused to address Carbide’s pending liabilities in Bhopal, that include medical and economic rehabilitation of victims, clean up of toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater, and provision of safe drinking water. Union Carbide is a proclaimed fugitive from justice for its failure to appear in Indian courts to face trial for manslaughter.

Students across the country delivered samples of contaminated water from Bhopal to the homes of eleven of Dow’s fourteen Board members, including the CEO, William Stavropoulos. Although many of the deliveries were either refused or ignored, Dr. Harold T. Shapiro, the President Emeritus of Princeton University and an 18-year member of Dow Chemical’s Board of Directors, accepted a sample of the contaminated water following an open talk to the Princeton community on bioethics. Dr. Shapiro also accepted the testimonial of a Bhopal victim.

“The contamination that Dow-Carbide left behind in Bhopal is their responsibility, and it belongs in their hands,” said Sujata Ray, a member of the Princeton AID chapter that presented the water. “We’re pleased that Dr. Shapiro, when faced with the consequences of his company’s inaction in Bhopal, accepted a sample of the contamination on behalf of Dow-Carbide. Unfortunately the behavior of the other Board members typifies that of Dow-Carbide, which continues to deny and evade their legal and moral responsibilities in Bhopal.”

“Clearly, the water contamination in Bhopal is an issue that needs to be brought ‘home’ to Dow-Carbide,” declared Jaimini Parekh, an SSC member who organized a “return-to-sender” action against Board member Jackie Barton. “Dow-Carbide has seemed content to condemn the survivors of Bhopal to wallow in the contamination that it left behind. The fact that Dow-Carbide has not acted to stop the ongoing contamination of tens of thousands—for which it is responsible—is inhumane, unjust, and immoral.”

Several rallies were held outside of Dow-Carbide offices and facilities, including those in Dallas, Texas and Smithfield, Rhode Island. As during the Vietnam War, students also protested against college affiliations with Dow-Carbide, including recruitment, investment, and financial contributions.

“Students are outraged,” said Ryan Bodanyi, an organizer with Students for Bhopal. “They don’t want their colleges and universities accepting money from a corporation that maintains its profit margins by poisoning people and blithely standing aside as they die. Dow-Carbide’s callous disregard for the value of human life hasn’t changed much since the Vietnam War, and students aren’t going to be any more forgiving now than they were then. Dow-Carbide should expect these protests to continue and intensify.”

“We’re not going to allow Dow-Carbide to get away with murder,” declared Nishant Jain, one of the leaders of AID’s Austin chapter. “Enron’s crimes may have cost people their retirement portfolios, but Dow-Carbide’s crimes in Bhopal have cost tens of thousands of people their health and their lives. People are fed up with corporate violations of our labor, environmental, and human rights, which is why so many people have united to take action on the anniversary of Bhopal, a particularly heinous corporate crime.”

Thousands of people from sixteen countries participated in the Global Day of Action in solidarity against Dow-Carbide and other corporate criminals. Events and actions took place in 16 cities across India, including Bhopal, as well as in the Netherlands, UK, USA, Lebanon, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, Bangladesh, Canada, and Italy.

CONTACT: Ryan Bodanyi, Students for Bhopal, (401) 829-6192
CONTACT: Nishant Jain, Association for India’s Development, (512) 422-7169
CONTACT: Jaimini Parekh, Sierra Student Coalition, (626) 355-9612
CONTACT: Sujata Ray, Association for India’s Development, (609) 279-0952

Students participated at:
Brown University
University of California (Berkeley)
University of Chicago
University of Colorado (Boulder)
Flintridge Preparatory School (Sierra Madre, CA)
Georgia State
Georgia Tech
Highland Park High School (Dallas, TX)
University of Illinois (Urbana-Champlain)
Johns Hopkins University
Lake Forest College
Loyola University
University of Maryland (College Park)
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
Penn State (University Park)
Portland State University
Occidental College
Reed College
Rhode Island School of Design
Sewanee College
University of Texas (Austin)
Wheaton College

Students delivered samples of Bhopal’s contaminated water to Dow Board members Arnold Allemang (Midland, MI), Jackie Barton (San Marino, CA), Anthony Carbone (Midland, MI), Willie Davis (Playa Del Rey, CA), Barbara Franklin (Washington, DC), Keith McKennon (Portland, OR), J. Pedro Reinhard (Midland, MI), James Ringler (Lake Forest, IL), Harold Shapiro (Princeton, NJ), William Stavropoulos (Midland, MI), and Paul Stern (Potomac, MD).


1 Students for Bhopal, the student arm of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB), is a national coalition of student groups dedicated to raising awareness about the disaster, advocating for the people of Bhopal, and increasing the pressure against Dow-Carbide to accept its moral and legal responsibilities in Bhopal. More information is available at www.studentsforbhopal.org and www.bhopal.net.

2 The Association for India’s Development (AID) is a voluntary non-profit organization committed to promoting sustainable, equitable and just development in India, by working with grassroots organizations and movements in India. More information is available at http://studentorgs.utexas.edu/aidaustin/bhopal/index.html

3 The Environmental Justice Program (EJP) of the Sierra Student Coalition (the student-run arm of the Sierra Club) is a national community of youth working for environmental justice. The EJP is devoted to advancing the principles of environmental justice in our society, and believes that all human beings deserve a healthy, sustainable, livable, and beautiful environment that provides security for our families and communities. More information is available at www.ssc.org/subdomains/departments/ej.

United against Dow: Horgen, Copenhagen, London, Mumbai and Bhopal.

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Investors take Dow at their word and demand Bhopal report

Its that man Liveris’k’ again, already. You see, there’s always a danger that someone is going to take your words to mean what they say. Then they may just ask you to back them up.

Today, Boston Common Asset Management(BCAM)did just that when they filed a shareholder resolution with Dow requesting that they “institute new initiatives to address the specific health, environmental and social concerns of the (Bhopal) survivors”. Now, Dow are old hands at ignoring this kind of request, no matter who it comes from. In fact, if they weren’t developing a reputation for looking the other way while whistling tunelessly they might have been able to get away with it again. BCAM, however, are clearly no mugs: Dow, like an errant schoolboy, has been told to account for itself. “Shareholders request the management of Dow Chemical to prepare a report to shareholders by October 2004, at reasonable cost and excluding confidential information, quantifying and analyzing the impacts that the Bhopal matter may reasonably pose on the company, its reputation, its finances and its expansion in Asia and elsewhere”. Ouch.

Investors Fault Dow Chemical for ‘Hiroshima of Chemical Industry’

Jeffrey Allen

OneWorld US
26 November 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 26 (OneWorld) — Nearly 20 years after what is considered by many to have been the worst industrial disaster in history, investors are calling on the U.S. corporation they hold responsible to do more to address the considerable remaining environmental, social, and health concerns of survivors.

A shareholder resolution was filed Tuesday with the Dow Chemical Company on behalf of the Brethren Benefit Trust (the financial arm of the Church of the Brethren), which owns $330,000 worth of stock in the company, asking Dow to describe what it has done to address the lingering concerns of the estimated 120,000 to 150,000 people left chronically ill by a gas leak at the Union Carbide pesticide factory in India in 1984.

Dow, which now owns Union Carbide, has been admonished by activists for doing little to clean up the contaminated site, failing to release information about the gas that doctors need to better treat patients, and inadequately compensating survivors and their families.

“When Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide two years ago, it inherited not only its assets but the liability and karma attached to Carbide’s lack of accountability for the Bhopal chemical disaster,” said Gary Cohen of the Environmental Health Fund, in a statement about the shareholder resolution released by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

About 8,000 people are believe to have died–mainly from cardiac and respiratory arrest–in the first three days after 40 tons of toxic gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal early in the morning of December 3, 1984.

“With safety systems either malfunctioning or turned off, an area of 40 square kilometers–with a resident population of over half a million–was soon covered with a dense cloud of gas,” explains Greenpeace, which advocates on behalf of the victims and survivors of the incident. “People woke in their homes to fits of coughing, their lungs filling with fluid.”

20,000 are believed to have died from diseases related to the gas leak, and of as many as 150,000 who remain chronically ill, 50,000 are too sick to earn a living, says the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. Additionally, toxins from the contaminated site continue to leak into the groundwater used by local residents, say activists.

A $470 million compensation package provided by Union Carbide amounts to approximately nine cents per day per person over the nineteen years since the incident occurred, “a pathetically inadequate amount, given the economic and health needs of the survivors,” according to the Campaign’s Tim Edwards.

The package does not include money to clean up the contaminated site nor does it include compensation for the tens of thousands of “second generation victims” who were born after the disaster but suffer from severe birth defects and other developmental and psychological problems caused by exposure to the gas.

Brethren Benefit Trust also filed a shareholder resolution in April with Proctor & Gamble, the largest retailer of coffee in the United States, pressing the company to address the crisis among coffee farmers in poor countries caused by a steep decline in coffee prices. By September, the company had agreed to introduce a new line of “Fair Trade Certified” coffee.

“We’re both concerned about the social and environmental impact as well as the financial return of our investments,” said Lauren Compere of Boston Common Asset Management, which filed Tuesday’s resolution with Dow on behalf of Brethren Benefit Trust. “We take a long-term view in terms of our investments and we’re very concerned that Dow has not taken what we consider a leadership role in proactively addressing the Bhopal issue, both on environmental remediation and also the survivors’ needs.”

In addition to the calls of its investors, survivors, and victims’ rights groups, Dow has been under pressure recently to do more to address the Bhopal situation from members of the British and European Parliaments, the U.S. chemical workers’ union PACE, students and professors’ campaigns, and members of the U.S. Congress, including Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

See also the Hindustan Times coverage here.

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36 years on, outraged students again unite against Dow

Reviving memories of the fierce Vietnam War protests at universities in the 1960’s, students at 20 colleges across the United States are once again organizing against Dow, this time united in their demand that Dow accept its moral and legal responsibilities in Bhopal. They’ve banded together to form Students for Bhopal, a national network that is planning campaigns against Dow until it accepts all the demands of the Bhopal survivors. “Students here are like students elsewhere,” said Janine Jacques, one of the student campaigners at Brown University. “When we heard about what was happening in Bhopal, we were outraged. We decided that we had to act.”

The student protests of 1967-8 afflict Dow’s reputation even now. Today’s students are also busy driving Dow’s expensively crafted image as an environmental steward and warm-hearted corporate citizen to the wall. Such as students at Brown, who aren’t buying it; they dressed up as the “Dow Grim Reaper” this past Halloween and set out to “kill” their fellow students on the college green. “We feel that Halloween is the perfect time to highlight the unholy alliance that Dow and Death seem to have made,” declared Mika Nagasaki, a sophomore at Brown. “Dow maximizes its profits by contributing to the deaths of thousands of people throughout the world, and Death is only too happy to collect these victims before their time. Dow’s legacy of contamination and death must come to an end; by refusing to take action in Bhopal, Dow is condemning thousands more to an untimely end.”

Students at other colleges were also making the connection between Dow and Death this past Halloween. Students at the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland–College Park, the University of California–Berkeley, and Wheaton also participated in the Halloween Day of Action. Over 30 colleges are expected to participate in the December 3rd Global Day of Action Against Corporate Crime.

Students for Bhopal has been organizing a series of campaigns against Dow Chemical, many of which parallel the student campaigns that plagued Dow during the Vietnam War. During the late ’60s and early ’70s, thousands of students forced Dow off of their college campuses-sometimes violently-because of its production of Agent Orange and Napalm for the US military. Dow’s steadfast refusal to take any responsibility for Bhopal is leading many students to question whether the company’s behavior has ever changed. Many are deciding that they don’t want their Universities associated with Dow, financially or otherwise.

“Is it possible to ethically invest in a corporation that refuses to remediate the impacts of its own pollution, to the detriment of thousands of lives? I don’t think so,” said Clayton Perry, one of the Bhopal organizers at Occidental College in California. “Nor is it really fair that Dow donates millions of dollars every year to colleges and universities across the country, while refusing to spend a cent in Bhopal. We don’t want our colleges accepting Dow’s blood money.”

“Many students have never heard of Bhopal,” said Ryan Bodanyi, the Student Coordinator for ICJB. “But once they do they become outraged, and they want to become involved. It’s amazing how quickly the student campaign is spreading; if Dow continues to dawdle and delay I think that they’ll have a huge fight on their hands before too long.”

To find out more about Students for Bhopal, visit www.studentsforbhopal.org

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Dow union passes historic resolution supporting Bhopal survivors

Well, we said it didn’t look like Dow’s year. Bhopal.net can exclusively reveal that the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union (PACE) unanimously passed a resolution on Bhopal/Dow at its first constitutional convention held in Las Vegas, Nev., Aug. 18-22, 2003. Placing Dow’s squalid double standards in the spotlight, the resolution states that, just as they accepted Carbide’s asbestos liabilities in Texas, 100 percent owner Dow must accept Carbide’s liabilities in Bhopal. In supporting each of the survivors’ demands, the resolution also calls upon the government of India to include ‘Dirty’ Dow in the ongoing criminal case in Bhopal.

“The Resolution sends a clear message to the world that solidarity is alive and strong,” said PACE Legislative Director Pete Strader. “When workers are harmed by a corrupt corporation and/or government, unions show they are truly their brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.” Also supporting the ICJB’s appeal for declaring Dec. 3, 2003 the anniversary of Carbide’s disaster in Bhopal as the Global Day of Action against Corporate Crime, the resolution calls upon all PACE members and workers worldwide to take direct action against rogue corporations.

The resolution came as a result of the meeting in Michigan between PACE members and Rashida Bee and Champa Devi during their US tour in May. Rashida and Champa’s union, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, is recognised by PACE as the leading member of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

The other demands made by survivors and supported by the resolution are:

• Ex-CEO Warren Anderson and Union Carbide should appear in the Bhopal court to face long-pending criminal charges;

• Medical information relating to the toxicity of the gases should be released and provisions for medical rehabilitation and long-term medical monitoring made;

• There should be economic rehabilitation of those injured; and
• There must be clean-up of toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater.

PACE represents workers at three Dow Chemical facilities in the U.S. at Edison, N.J., Bound Brook, N.J., and Elizabethtown, Ky. The union represents 300,000 workers in the pulp, paper, oil, chemical, industrial, auto supply, atomic and mining sectors in the U.S. and Canada, and is the fourth largest manufacturing union in the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations).

Rashida Bee said, “Solidarity like this has helped to keep our fight alive for two decades. Today, members of Dow’s own workforce are in strong support of Bhopal survivors. We expect Dow will realise soon that it’s only a matter of time before corporate criminals are forced to succumb to the pressures of grassroots globalisation.”

Read the full text of the PACE resolution here.

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Now Euro MPs tell Dow, ‘He who pollutes must pay’

Dow must have imagined nobody would notice. Or mused that if your double standards are brazen enough, no one will point them out. From Kathy Hunt’s doe-eyed “but they don’t have Superfund over there, do they?” to Michael Parker’s dead-behind-the-eyes suggestion that the beggarly compensation money intended for gas survivors – yes, you read that correctly, gas survivors – should be used to clean up Carbide’s crime, ‘polluter pays’ was only something you did when you couldn’t possibly get away with it. Well it’s starting to look like Dow can’t. Having Congress on your back about it is bad enough, throw in the European parliament and it’s beginning to look like it might not be your year.

On September 24th members of the Green/FEA group announced that they would be “joining in the action that the members of the US Congress have started against the firm DOW.”

Press Statement

The Green / Free European Alliance

Strasbourg, September 24th, 2003

From Bhopal to Toulouse: no forgetting.

Two years after the Toulouse catastrophe, The Green / FEA group at the European Parliament, welcomed a delegation of victims of the Bhopal disaster (25000 dead, 50000 wounded) during the Parliamentary session of September 2003. At the end of the meeting, the group The Green / FEA pledged to support the fight of the Bhopal victims by joining in the action that the members of the US Congress have started against the firm DOW. The Green / FEA group will demand that the European Commission and the European Council implement all means necessary to give all citizens of Bhopal access to drinking water.

Nearly twenty years after the tragedy, justice hasn’t yet cast full light on the accident, thus delaying the right compensation of victims. While the European Union is discussing the question of environmental responsibility, while the debates at the European Council may weaken, yet a little more, the text voted by the European Parliament, it is indispensable to recall the obligations of the industrialists who work in high-risk sectors.

To enforce the principle ” polluter-payer ” (he who pollutes shall pay) is essential to ensure that justice is done and that industrial disasters victims are compensated. Moreover, the pollution of the soil and ground water, aggravated by systematic dumping of toxic products by DOW Union Carbide, keeps causing serious health problems and congenital malformations. No compensation often means not being able to get treatment. It must be said that in Bhopal, medical care is in a large extent, given freely thanks to determined actors of the Indian civil society, such as Satinath Sarangi wo runs the Sambhavna Clinic : there, treatment is provided freely to survivors. For nearly twenty years now, the environmental catastrophe has been followed by a health disaster.

In the background, the question of a policy of chemicals emerges. The report of Inger Schorling Swedish Green European MP- shows the limits of goodwill in a sector which could be tempted, should a more severe legislation be adopted, to transfer part of its activities to countries unable by lack of means- to enforce such strict laws.

Marie Anne Isler Béguin

Inger Schorling

Paul Lannoye

Members of The Green / FEA goup at the European Parliament

Translation by Carmela Pizarroso (Toulouse)

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