December 3rd marked the 20th anniversary of the world’s worst
chemical spill at the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal,
India.. Twenty-seven tons of methyl isocyanate, one of the most
toxic and lethal substances known to humans, filled the air in the
populous village, causing death, lung injuries, immune disorders,
gynecological problems, mental illness, and chromosomal damage.
Since Union Carbide didn’t issue any safety information regarding
potential leaks, the city was ill-prepared for the emergency and
over 8,000 people were killed instantly, with another 50,000
suffering permanent disabilities, many of them
While Union Carbide initially accepted ‘moral responsibility’
for the disaster, it quickly shifted the blame towards worker
sabotage and away from the lax safety standards and personnel
shortages that led to the leak. The company’s subsequent efforts to
clean up the area were also grossly inadequate, leaving large
quantities of mercury and toxic chemicals that still seep into the
ground water and adversely affect Bhopal’s residents.
In 2001, Union Carbide merged with Dow Chemical, which accepted
legal responsibility for its toxic legacy. Like Union Carbide,
however, Dow has done little for the region. The company recently
agreed to compensation averaging roughly $500 per victim, but these
funds have only begun to address a fraction of the devastated
city’s medical and economic woes. By refusing to correct its toxic
past in India, Dow has attracted the attention of activists
worldwide who hope to hold the corporation accountable for the
death and devastation it has helped create.
Go there >>
International Campaign for Justice
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