US Press Release: 25th Anniversary of Bhopal Disaster

25th Anniversary of Bhopal Chemical Disaster Prompts Over 150 Actions Around the World

Amnesty International, Yes Men and Students Groups Globally Call on Dow Chemical and Indian Government to Clean Up Toxic Groundwater As Thousands Still Face Birth Defects, Cancer and Other Illnesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE        CONTACT:     Shayna Samuels, 718-541-4785
December 3, 2009                        or Glenn Turner, 917-817-3396               

    To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal Chemical Disaster, thousands of supporters around the world will be participating in an International Day of Action today to pressure Dow Chemical (the current owner of Union Carbide) to clean up the water in Bhopal and face criminal charges in India.  
   
    The Day of Action will include mass rallies, symbolic “die-ins”, candle-lit vigils, concerts, protests and more. Participants are honoring the night in 1984 when twenty-seven tons of lethal gases leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide factory, immediately killing 8,000 people and poisoning thousands of others.  The area was never cleaned up, and nearly 150,000 people, including children of survivors, are suffering tremendously as a result.

Just this week two explosive new reports, by the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (www.cseindia.org) and the UK-based Bhopal Medical Appeal (www.bhopal.org), confirm a second chemical disaster in Bhopal, caused by contamination of soil and groundwater by Carbide’s toxic wastes. The BMA report, incorporating results of three water samples tested in a top-quality Swiss laboratory, found that levels of Carbon Tetrachloride and chloroform in the groundwater has increased over the years. This, according to BMA, indicates that the Union Carbide site has been leaking poisons for more than two decades.

    “Bhopal cannot be ignored any longer,” said Shana Ortman, US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.  “Dow prides itself on a commitment to the ‘Human Element’ yet they are ignoring the people who are suffering the most due to the company’s own in-action.”

    Over 150 actions are being planned around the globe, from Bhopal to London, and San Francisco to Tel Aviv.  Highlights of the International Day of Action include:

  • The Yes Men will be leading an action in NYC with hundreds of students. The students will spell out “DOW” while others will hold signs saying, “Clean up Bhopal”.
  • Steven Volan, a member of the Bloomington, IN City Council, will propose a Resolution that is poised to become the strongest U.S. city resolution about Bhopal ever passed.
  • At exactly 12:05pm on December 3, 25 people will “Die-In” in Union Square in San Francisco, holding visuals from Bhopal. The 25 people will each represent 1,000 people who died in Bhopal on December 3, 1984 and in the subsequent years. 
  • Amnesty International and Students for Bhopal in Toronto will hold a peaceful rally and vigil with speakers outside the Indian Consulate.
  • Boston 4 Bhopal will host a “Fast for Bhopal” rally in Copley Square at 12:00pm on December 3. Participants will fast, sign petitions, exhibit photos and stage a “die-in.”
  • In Berlin there will be a 9-hour vigil at the Brandenburg Gate and the Indian Embassy with information, performances, and petitioning.
  • There will be a gathering led by the Bhopal Medical Appeal at Trafalgar Square in London at 3pm on December 2, which equates, in Indian time, the point at which the disastrous chain of events began.
  • Amnesty International led two online actions on December 2 – sending emails to the Dow Chemical Corporation and to the Prime Minister of India.
  • On December 3, thousands of supporters will be asked to call members of the Dow Board of Directors, calling on them to face their responsibilities in Bhopal.
  • Over 100 actions will take place across India, including a massive rally from Bhopal’s Bharat Talkies to the Union Carbide factory.

All of these groups, including the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, are demanding that:  

  • The Indian government clean up Bhopal now to prevent further spread of the toxins, and use the courts to get reimbursed by Dow.
  • Dow’s subsidiary, Union Carbide, show up in court to face trial in the ongoing criminal proceedings against them in India.
  • The Indian Government establish the “empowered commission” that they promised in August 2008 to address the health, environmental, social, and economic issues in Bhopal.
  • The Indian Government finish building pipelines to bring clean water to the people in and around Bhopal immediately. 

 
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