Greenpeace welcomes Indian action on Bhopal
Bhopal, India, 2 December 2004 - The people of Bhopal need action now not another survey or PR stunt Greenpeace warned today in response to the Indian Government's announcement that it is to commission a Bhopal contamination survey as a "first step" to a clean-up.
"While we welcome the announcement that the Indian government wants to take proactive and urgent measures to conduct the clean-up, Greenpeace believes that after twenty years this is the slowest first step in history. Greenpeace calls on the Indian government to immediately commit itself to most urgent and immediate measures of securing the site and providing clean drinking water to the survivors," said Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace India campaigner in Bhopal.
Making the announcement Uma Shanker, Madhya Pradesh State Minister responsible for Bhopal said: "The [US] court is doing its work. We should also take our own initiative. So we have decided to find out how much toxic waste remains on the plant site."
Last month Greenpeace made public a list of recommendations developed by an independent team of experts for a clean up of the site. They agreed that the site should be immediately secured to prevent any further access and that safe water should be piped to the local communities.
In the longer term they called for: dismantling of the existing building and plant; the excavation and pre-treatment of polluted soils. A longer-term remediation focusing on the clean up of the underground water is also vital, but it will take many years to complete due to the complexity of the site and the unknown extent of contamination.
"A lack of corporate responsibility has been the biggest obstacle over the last two decades to a Bhopal clean-up and the political will to make it happen. While the clean-up must begin now, Dow Chemicals cannot be let off the hook, in the end they must be made to pay the bill," concluded Gopal.
Notes to Editor:
(1). On the night of December 2-3rd 1984, forty tons of lethal gases leaked from a pesticide factory in Bhopal, owned by Union Carbide, now DOW Chemicals. The disaster has killed up to 20,000 people and left at least 150,000 chronically ill to date. Survivors and their children continue to suffer long-term health effects ranging from cancer and tuberculosis to birth defects and chronic fevers.
(2). Summary of recommendations: http://www.greenpeace.org/international_en/press/
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.