At 0545 am this morning Central Time, Diane Wilson, a shrimp boat captain and environmentalist from Seadrift, Texas, scaled a 90 foot tower at Dow Chemical’s Seadrift plant, unfurled a 12 foot banner stating DOW – RESPONSIBLE FOR BHOPAL and chained herself to the tower. An eyewitness reported, “Dawn is breaking. she’s hanging the banner. Will be spotted any minute now. It’s windy and bloody loud up there next to all the compressors. She can’t hear a word on her phone, she says. Flames shooting up around her.”
KPFT 90.1 HOUSTON reporter Jackson Allers has been arrested by the Sheriff’s office for “criminal trespass” after taking pictures of Diane on the tower. He was outside Dow at the time. Kathy Hunt, Dow-Carbide’s PR Leader at Seadrift explained to KPFT News that it was necessary to arrest Jackson because he was taking pictures of Dow-Carbide plant, which is “proprietory technology” and that Dow-Carbide needed to protect its “trade secrets”. This is the same reason the company has given for 18 years for not releasing medical information about the lethal gases that leaked from its plant in Bhopal, killing thousands of innocent men, women and children as they lay sleeping in their beds. (Jackson has now been released.)
Full press release here.
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This is the same tower that was implicated in a l991 explosion that killed 1 worker, injured 34 others, including 6 citizens after the plant had been declared the safest one in the state by the Texas Chemical Council. Shrapnel the size of cars flew into the countryside.
UPDATE: Well, Diane has been arrested. Dow employees sent a basket up the tower asking her to come down. When she refused, law officers of Brazoria County mounted the tower and presumably cut the chain. We expect her to be out on bond tonight.
The Houston Chronicle covered the story but got the number of Union Carbide’s victims seriously wrong. They quote 3,849 dead. Where did you get this figure, guys? The Madhya Pradesh Government’s own figures put the death toll to date at over 20,000 and it is still mounting. Here’s our letter explaining the figures we use.
Dow-Carbide’s PR supremo at Seadrift, Kathy Hunt, was not answering her phone to us today. Call her and say hello on + 1 361 553 3058 and politely reiterate the demands of the Bhopal survivors that Dow Chemical assume full liability for the actions of its subsidiary Union Carbide in Bhopal, and that it act speedily to clean up the toxic mess left by Carbide. See here for details, figures and facts about the toxic chemicals involved.
UPDATE: Diane is out. Lots to tell but her cell phone has been confiscated and handed over to the FBI. All our numbers are now presumably being analysed by the same hot shot agents who just cannot trace Warren Anderson anywhere. He is the ex-Carbide CEO wanted on criminal charges in India and by Interpol. The Indian government’s recent move to reduce criminal charges against him sparked the present wave of hunger strikes. Read all about it inside the site.
Anyway, if you were planning to call Diane and congratulate on her bravery, and a gruff voice asks who the hell you are, you will know it’s not her dear old mom taking messages.
UPDATE: Read Diane’s own account of her adventure on the tower and how the men in black brought her down.
Please call Jim Smith, the Calhoun County Jail Administrator and thank him for treating Diane so well when she was in custody. His number is +1 361 553 4646.
UPDATE, 28 AUG: Union Carbide officials are considering a federal charge against Diane which carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison, says Kathy Hunt, Dow-Carbide’s PR leader at Seadrift. Richly ironic, considering that Diane caused no damage by her action whereas Union Carbide, which has caused 20,000 deaths to date in Bhopal, is still refusing to appear in court in India to answer criminal charges against it and has been declared an official “absconder from justice”.
The luckless Kathy Hunt, who seems to put her foot in her mouth every time she opens it, told the Victoria Advocate newspaper today that the Indian courts have ruled that Union Carbide’s actions after the accident were morally and financially satisfactory. “That chapter is closed,” Hunt said.
Er, not quite, Kath.
Union Carbide still faces criminal charges in the Bhopal court as a result of which its ex-Chairman Warren Anderson has an Interpol warrant out for his arrest. This morning the Bhopal Court rejected an application to reduce outstanding criminal charges against Mr Anderson and called on the Indian Government in the sternest language to move immediately for the extradition of Anderson from the USA, where he is in hiding. Please call Kathy on + 1 361 553 3058 and politely explain this to her. You might suggest she reads this rather better informed article on the legal issues before committing further gaffes.
WHEN YOU CALL KATHY HUNT, ASK: “IF DIANE STANDS TRIAL, WILL MR WARREN ANDERSON AND UNION CARBIDE ALSO TURN UP TO STAND TRIAL IN BHOPAL? OR WILL IT BE YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF DOW’S DOUBLE STANDARDS?”
UPDATE, AUG 28, 2200GMT+1: Diane reports that her house has just been buzzed by a helicopter, which circled it at tree top level twice before disappearing. We are taking this very seriously because after a 1992 action against Formosa Plastics, shots were fired from a helicopter at her house, narrowly missing a relative and killing her dog.
We are publishing Diane’s email to us in order to focus international attention on these attempts to silence her.
Wed, 28 Aug 2002 17:53:57 EDT
“just a few minutes ago a helicopter came out of the north from nowhere and circled my house very low, almost on a level with the trees. it was a green and white helicopter. it did it twice and i thought it was going to land.
“back in l992 when i was on a hungerstrike against formosa, i had a helicopter land in my front yard. a sniper from the helicopter shot at my mother-in- law and killed my dog. i still have the bullets, cops didn’t want to do anything. said if i ever got locked up, they were sending me to the looney bin. also my shrimp boat was sabastoged twice and i nearly drowned on the bay. in this mornings paper of Port Lavaca Wave, the article said there was a plane that circled the tower i was on and the plane was in carbide’s air space. they suspected it was friends of mine.
“i think someone or somebodies is trying to harrass and frighten me.”
Diane doesn’t frighten easily. Check the following for background about her extraordinary life as an activist, including the 1992 helicopter attack and how the US Coastguard prevented her from sinking her own shrimp trawler over a source of pollution.
“Clean Water, What’s It Worth?” An overview of Diane’s environmental campaigning
Diane’s struggle against Formosa Plastics
Lifetime TV’s Heroes
The War Against The Greens – Book Review
The small town of Seadrift is almost entirely dependent for employment on the giant chemical plants that dominate the countryside nearby. Calhoun County politics and infrastructure is so tied in to the companies that a perceived threat to one is considered a threat to all. Diane has protested against the toxic discharges of most of these companies. Economic papers have been presented to the local commissioners court about the real danger on the horizon – environmental activism. Congressman Ron Paul even presented a paper to Congress saying pretty much the same thing.
We ask Bhopal supporters and friends of Diane from all around the world to contact John Musser in Dow’s Corporate Public Affairs Department on (+1) 989 636-5663 (or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) and demand that the Dow Chemical Corporation publicly disown and condemn these attempts to intimidate Diane Wilson. Please copy emails to Kathy Hunt at Seadrift. Her email address is email@example.com