Bhopal pesticide disaster, thirty years on

This 2 December 2014 video from India is called Bhopal gas tragedy: 30 years on, generations affected.

By Paul Collins in Britain:

Still waiting for justice over Bhopal

Wednesday 3rd November 2014

Thirty years on from the world’s worst industrial disaster the bereaved and sick have still yet to receive proper compensation, writes PAUL COLLINS

TODAY, 30 years on since the world’s worst industrial disaster, more babies will be born with lifelong health problems caused by the Union Carbide pesticide factory leak in Bhopal, capital of the Indian state Madhya Pradesh.

More than half a million people, mostly the poor, were exposed when the poisonous gas methyl isocyanate and other chemicals flowed into and around the shanty towns located near the US corporation’s plant.

Estimates suggest up to 25,000 deaths from gas-related diseases, with the Bhopal Medical Appeal citing up to 150,000 survivors now continuing to struggle with serious medical conditions.

These range from nerve damage, growth problems and gynecological disorders to respiratory issues, birth defects and higher rates of cancer and tuberculosis.

And though for decades the bereaved and sick have battled for adequate compensation, many have received little beyond £300, as Dow Chemical denies any responsibility, pointing to its purchase of Union Carbide after the disaster.

Union Carbide paid £300 million redress and Dow insists all liabilities were settled at that time – in stark contrast to the £17 billion compensation paid by BP after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Dow reported £5.3bn full-year earnings last January and, amid British government austerity measures, managed to find £7m as a 2012 Olympics sponsor for the wrap around the main London stadium.

Only months before the Games, the anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks revealed that Dow hired the US global intelligence company Stratfor to spy on Bhopal activists.

Eight Indians, all former Union Carbide plant staff, received two-year prison sentences for “death by negligence.”

But Warren Anderson, ex-chief executive of Union Carbide, repeatedly moved home to dodge legal writs, lived to a ripe old age in New York luxury, with his death at 92 disclosed last month from a Florida nursing home.

One activist, Rashida Bee, who lost six family members to cancer blamed on the gas, said: “He should have been jailed for the rest of his life, but didn’t spend a day behind bars.”

Campaigners extend beyond Dow and Union Carbide accusations over numerous Indian deaths linked to pesticide.

Another transnational, the agribusiness giant Monsanto, faces claims that the firm has contributed to more than 290,000 farmers’ suicides over the past 20 years.

The farmers drank chemicals after falling into debt, borrowing money under pressure to buy genetically modified seeds, which drove them to kill themselves when their crops failed.

Recent days have seen another disaster anniversary, two years on since 120 garment workers died, trapped in the worst Bangladeshi fire throughout the country’s history, at the nine-storey Tazreen factory.

Some workers lost their lives jumping to the ground in desperate attempts to escape the flames at the building near the capital Dhaka.

And critics point their fingers at yet another US culprit for the carnage, the world’s biggest retailer, Walmart, alleging that the company knew about unsafe Tazreen conditions, but stopped moves to improve them.

Despite the Dutch brand C&A agreeing with the IndustriALL global union federation to pay a significant amount towards full and fair compensation, Walmart remains among others that have failed to follow suit.

The British retailer, Edinburgh Woollen Mill – best known for its Peacocks and Jane Norman stores – has also lagged behind C&A in meeting its obligations to the Tazreen victims.

Walmart, along with Gap, continues to snub the legally binding Accord on Bangladesh Fire and Safety, joining instead the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which excludes unions and will not publish the results of factory audits.

Indeed, while the notorious anti-union monolith raked in huge profits on Black Friday, hundreds of Walmart employees’ strikes took place across the US, in protest at low pay and bad conditions.

Public Eye, a campaign begun by the Berne Declaration and Greenpeace as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos in Switzerland, has named Dow and Walmart for a potential shame award.

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal nominated Dow and the UNI Global union federation proposed Walmart for the lifetime award that will mark 15 years since the campaign announced its first corporate irresponsibility dishonour.

In 2005 Dow received its human rights award for refusal to accept any responsibility for the Bhopal catastrophe and Walmart was given the labour counterpart for working conditions at its suppliers.

Last year War on Want nominated G4S for a Public Eye award over its supplying equipment and services for use at Israeli checkpoints, settlements and jails, and saw the security corporation ranked among the worst firms on the planet.

Other nominees this year include Goldman Sachs for denying any wrongdoing over the global economic crash, Chevron for threatening people’s struggles and denying victims’ rights to remedies, Glencore for human rights and environmental abuse and Gazprom for Arctic misadventures affecting the world.

People can vote for one of the firms until January 22 at

Paul Collins is media officer for anti-poverty charity War on Want.

HUNDREDS of survivors of the Bhopal gas leak and their supporters took to the streets of the Indian city today to mark the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster. The protesters demanded harsher punishments for those responsible and suitable compensation for the victims of the tragedy: here.

Bhopal disaster survivors demand justice

This video about India is called Dow refuses to pay more to Bhopal victims.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Survivors demand justice

Monday 03 December 2012

Survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster and their supporters rallied near the Indian prime minister’s office in New Delhi today on the anniversary of the tragedy.

They called for the prime ministers’ intervention to punish the Union Carbide corporation – now owned by Dow Chemical – and guarantee adequate compensation for the victims.

Over 3,000 died and at least 500,000 others were affected by the methyl isocyanate leak in 1984 and thousands of children born to parents directly exposed to the gas or poisoned by contaminated water are suffering cleft lips, missing palates and twisted limbs.

The victims got only inadequate compensation, pressure group Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sanghthan convener Abdul Jabbar said.

Mr Jabbar added that both state and central governments were trying to protect multinational companies.

“It is because of this attitude that Union Carbide then chief executive Warren Anderson has not been brought to India to face trial.”

After Bhopal, more disasters?

This video says about itself:

Children Against Dow-Carbide is an organisation of the children born to the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster and the victims of the water poisoned due to the waste abandoned at the Union Carbide factory site in Bhopal, India.

By Rory MacKinnon in Scotland:

Bhopal survivor: It could happen again

Friday 14 September 2012

A survivor of the world’s worst industrial disaster warned activists last night that “mini-Bhopals” could happen anywhere.

Campaigner Balkrishna Namdev told an Edinburgh crowd that it had been 29 years since Dow subsidiary Union Carbide’s disaster wreaked havoc on his hometown.

The insecticide plant’s toxic gas leak killed an estimated 11,000 people, injuring more than half a million more.

Nearly three decades on, Dow has denied compensation or any responsibility for the disaster, despite a series of failed safety checks, while people living in slums near the factory’s ruins still suffer from illnesses linked to polluted soil and groundwater.

But Mr Namdev, 60, said he had been working with other sick and destitute survivors – many far older than himself – to seek justice ever since.

“The old people lead the struggle and show us the way.

“But everyone can participate in the fight for justice in Bhopal and stand up against any kind of injustice. It does not need to be for the gas victims alone.

“There are mini-Bhopals happening all over the world. Justice for Bhopal means a safer world for all,” he said.

Children Against Dow-Carbide founder Safreen Khan was born in Bhopal eight years after the leak but said she lived in the shadow of the disaster every day.

“So many children have been born disabled or damaged, with fingers missing or not able to walk, as a result of the gas tragedy.

“We felt it was important for children and young people to tell the story of what happened and is still happening in Bhopal,” she said.

Further speaking dates are expected in Scotland, England and Ireland.

Olympic Dow Chemical protest in Bhopal

This video from Britain says about itself:

Meredith Alexander resigns from the Commission for Sustainable London 2012 – in protest at decision to allow Dow Chemicals to be a sponsor when they are still to resolve the legacy of the Bhopal disaster.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Spotlight on Dow’s Olympic shame

INDIA: Hundreds of survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster held a “special Olympics” in the city today to shame London 2012 sponsor Dow Chemical Co.

They are demanding that it pay compensation for a 1984 chemical leak that killed around 15,000 people and poisoned a further 500,000.

The “Olympics” began with an opening ceremony of children with celebral palsy, partial paralysis and brain injuries.

Dow denies liability for the disaster and says a 1989 deal resolved the issue.

See also, with photos, here.

Drop DOW Chemical as partners for the London 2012 Olympic Games #Bhopal. Internet petition is here.

Bhopal disaster, art and Olympics

This video says about itself:

BHOPAL: A SILENT PICTURE is a photo installation by Samar S. Jodha. During its showing at the week-long Mumbai’s Kala Godha Arts Festival 2011, it received record 82,172 visitors.

By Veronique Mistiaen in Britain:

Bhopal: A Silent Picture

Monday 23 July 2012

Aa readers of the Morning Star will know, one of the sponsors of the Olympic Games is Dow Chemical, which owns the company responsible for the December 1984 Bhopal disaster.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 people perished instantly because of a toxic gas leak from a pesticide factory in the Indian city. Over the next 20 years a further 15,000 people died and the site is still contaminated, affecting over 100,000 people.

Dow Chemical has never addressed the continuing human rights impact of the catastrophe, says Amnesty International.

In order to bring the issue to wider attention an exhibition which runs to the end of the month has just opened outside Amnesty’s headquarters in Shoreditch, east London, close to the Olympics park.

It highlights the Olympics link to Dow Chemical in a multi-sensory art installation on Bhopal by renowned Indian artist Samar Jodha.

Jodha’s temperature-controlled metal container recreates the wintry night of December 2 1984 in Bhopal with 3D images, blowtorched mannequins and a soundscape.

The latter starts silently and there are notably no alarms or sirens throughout.

As on that fateful December night, there’s just the noise of crickets and the hum of the factory.

The sound of gas escaping from the plant can be heard as the viewer moves through the container and, towards the end of the journey, the sound of the first Bhopal victim struggling to breathe.

Born in Jodhpur, India, Jodha has relatives in Bhopal including an uncle who worked at the chemical plant and another who was a doctor.

The installation will help prevent “the constant struggle of memory against forgetting,” he says.

Renowned London street artist Pure Evil has also painted a sign on the Amnesty building, which reads: “Don’t Poison Our Olympics – Tell Lord Coe To Stop Defending Dow.”

That slogan is what this exhibition’s all about and Amnesty is asking the public to contact Lord Coe, the head of the committee organising the London Olympic Games, to ask him to retract Locog’s defence of Dow Chemical and to apologise to Bhopal’s survivors.

You can email Lord Coe directly by visiting

Bhopal: A Silent Picture is at The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, Shoreditch, London EC2, until July 31.

Furious workers at South West Trains will take industrial action throughout the Olympics after miserly bosses refused to pay them a Games bonus payment: here.

The hysteria over Olympic security has been a wonder to behold: here.

How corporations, governments, etc. censor Wikipedia

This video is called What is Wikipedia?

After earlier news on this; from British daily The Independent:

Wikipedia and the art of censorship

It was hailed as a breakthrough in the democratisation of knowledge. But the online encyclopedia has since been hijacked by forces who decided that certain things were best left unknown.

By Robert Verkaik

Published: 18 August 2007

The secret of Wikipedia’s phenomenal success is that anyone can edit the millions of comments, facts and statistics published on the pages of the world’s most popular online encyclopaedia. But that of course is also its greatest weakness.

The chance to rewrite history in flattering and uncritical terms has proved too much of a temptation for scores of multinational companies, political parties and well-known organisations across the world. …

Exxon Mobil and the giant oil slick

An IP address that belongs to ExxonMobil, the oil giant, is linked to sweeping changes to an entry on the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. An allegation that the company “has not yet paid the $5 billion in spill damages it owes to the 32,000 Alaskan fishermen” was replaced with references to the funds the company has paid out.

The [United States] Republican Party and Iraq

The Republican Party edited Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party entry so it made it clear that the US-led invasion was not a “US-led occupation” but a “US-led liberation.”

The CIA and casualties of war

A computer with a CIA IP address was used to change a graphic on casualties of the Iraq war by adding the warning that many of the figures were estimated and not broken down by class. Another entry on former CIA chief William Colby was edited to expand his cv. …

Dow Chemical and the Bhopal disaster

A computer registered to the Dow Chemical Company is recorded as deleting a passage on the Bhopal chemical disaster of 1984, which occurred at a plant operated by Union Carbide, now a wholly owned Dow subsidiary. The incident cost up to 20,000 lives. …

MySpace and self-censorship

Someone working from an IP address linked to MySpace [owned by Rupert Murdoch] appears to have been so irritated by references to the social networking website’s over-censorial policy that they removed a paragraph accusing MySpace of censorship. …

News International and the hypocritical anti-paedophile campaign

Someone at News International [owned by Rupert Murdoch] saw fit to remove criticism of the News of the World‘s anti-paedophile campaign by deleting the suggestion that this amounted to editorial hypocrisy [see also a Dutch nazi child porn case of that]. The original entry reminded readers that the paper continued to “publish semi-nude photographs of page three models as young as 16 and salacious stories about female celebrities younger than that.”

Tom Hodgkinson on the [US conservative] politics of Facebook: here.