|MIDLAND, MICHIGAN - December 3 - Greenpeace activists around the world held public demonstrations today with AACCTT, Bhopal (a coalition of survivors' groups), calling on the Dow Chemical Co. to take responsibility for the toxic legacy in Bhopal and to do what's needed to prevent a Bhopal-type disaster from happening again. Greenpeace unveiled maps of Midland and selected chemical plants across the U.S., showing what would happen if there were major chemical leaks at these plants from terrorist attacks or accidents.
In Midland, Michigan, site of Dow's headquarters, Greenpeace joined local activists to deliver a letter to Dow detailing the environmental group's demands of the company, which merged with Union Carbide (who owned the factory in Bhopal, India) this year.
"Bhopal suffered the worst industrial accident in history, and I would not wish the experience on anyone," said Navroz Mody, Greenpeace India Campaign Coordinator. "Dow and Union Carbide made part of India a toxic nightmare. They must make sure the same thing doesn't happen anywhere else in the world."
The lethal gas leak from the Bhopal factory in 1984 killed as many as 7,500 people immediately and is causing tens of thousands of people in the area to have severe medical problems. Union Carbide only paid out an average of $370-$533 per person in February, 1989. As many as 100,000 people are still in need of urgent medical attention and have missed out on compensation.
The abandoned factory remains, with toxic waste and pesticide residue strewn about the property. The groundwater in the area is still contaminated. To illustrate this, Greenpeace activists delivered water samples from Bhopal to Dow offices in Switzerland, Netherlands, Chile, Thailand, China (Hong Kong), Philippines, India and Argentina.
The letter that activists delivered to Dow in Midland included the following demands:
- clean up the abandoned Union Carbide site in Bhopal, India;
- provide long term medical assistance and services to the Bhopal victims;
- and ensure economic rehabilitation for the victims.
"Dow has bought Union Carbide's goods, but it's trying to ignore its horrible legacy from Bhopal," noted Damu Smith, Greenpeace Toxics Campaigner. "Dow must do the right thing and clean up the toxic waste that Union Carbide left behind in India. Corporate polluters would never have been allowed to abandon a contaminated site in the U.S. They shouldn't be allowed to do it in India, either."