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Dow Chemical Scandal

To coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, Jack Doyle came out with Trespass Against Us: Dow Chemical and the Toxic Century.

Dow Chemical ScandalAt midnight on December 2, 1984, 27 tons of lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide's pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, immediately killing an estimated 8,000 people and poisoning thousands of others.

Today in Bhopal, at least 150,000 people, including children born to parents who survived the disaster, are suffering from exposure-related health effects such as cancer, neurological damage, chaotic menstrual cycles and mental illness.

Over 20,000 people are forced to drink water with unsafe levels of mercury, carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.

Activists from around the world — including human rights, legal, environmental health and other experts — mobilized this year to demand that Dow Chemical, the current owner of Union Carbide, be held accountable.

Twenty years after this disaster, the company responsible for this catastrophe and its former executives are still fugitives from justice. Union Carbide and its former chairman, Warren Andersen, were charged with manslaughter for the deaths at Bhopal, but they refuse to appear before the Indian courts.

Dow's “complete statement” on Bhopal:

Twenty years ago on December 3, 1984, one of the most tragic incidents in the history of industry occurred in Bhopal, India. Those of us in industry remember that day well, and the following days, when several thousand people died.

Although Dow never owned nor operated the plant, we — along with the rest of industry — have learned from this tragic event, and we have tried to do all we can to assure that similar incidents never happen again.

To that end, the chemical industry learned and grew as a result of Bhopal — creating Responsible Care with its strengthened focus on process safety standards, emergency preparedness, and community awareness. The industry also has worked with governmental regulators to assure that industry best practices are implemented through regulations for the protection of workers and communities.

While Dow has no responsibility for Bhopal, we have never forgotten the tragic event and have helped to drive global industry performance improvements. This is why Responsible Care was created and why these standards are essential for the protection of our employees and the communities where we live and work. Our pledge and our commitment is the full implementation of Responsible Care everywhere we do business around the world.

The former Bhopal plant was owned and operated by Union Carbide India, Ltd. (UCIL), an Indian company, with shared ownership by Union Carbide Corporation, the Indian government, and private investors. Union Carbide sold its shares in UCIL in 1994, and UCIL was renamed Eveready Industries India, Ltd., which remains a significant Indian company today.

Dow has no responsibility for Bhopal? The people of Bhopal don't agree. They say Union Carbide was responsible, and if Union Carbide is now owned by Dow, then Dow's responsible. They refuse to accept Dow's corporate shell game.

Dow says that for most of the past decade it has pursued a “series of ambitious goals to improve Environment, Health, and Safety performance. We did this because we value the safety of our people and neighbors.” The result, according to the company, has been 10,000 injuries averted since 1996.

“Our ‘Vision of Zero' means we want no injuries, illnesses, accidents, or environmental harm to result from our enterprise,” asserts the company. “It is a lofty goal, but it is also the only acceptable Vision for us to work toward.”

 

Dow Chemical Scandal Continued...

 

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