Greenpeace reveals DOW's hidden collection in Paris fashion fair
Paris, 21 September 2004 - Greenpeace displayed
pictures of the victims of the world's worst industrial
disaster-Bhopal- at the opening of an international textile
exhibition in Paris, where DOW Chemical, the entity
responsible for the 1984 disaster presented a new fibre
called XLA. Greenpeace together with ICJB (1) demand that
DOW accepts full liability for the ongoing disaster in
Visitors attending the release of DOW's new textile at Premier Vision's exhibition, were received by Greenpeace activists dressed in black t-shirts revealing the faces of the victims of Bhopal and handing them information regarding the company's corporate irresponsibility. Greenpeace is also demanding that the multinational pay the health treatments of the survivors and clean up the large stockpiles of dangerous poisons and the contaminated underground water left behind at the site of the accident.
"The people affected by the disaster now live in the shadow of an ongoing environmental and health catastrophe. The banner that carries the faces of the Bhopali victims reveals the hidden collection of DOW - the real story of Bhopal after twenty years. We, the people of Bhopal have suffered for 20 years now and it is disheartening to discover that instead of taking responsibility for cleaning up the polluted disaster site in Bhopal and offering medical assistance to the ailing survivors, DOW is busy making profits." Said Rani Niloufer, a 20-year-old Bhopal survivor (2).
On 3 December 1984, more than 40 tonnes of poisonous gases leaked from a storage tank at a Union Carbide (3) pesticide factory into the heart of Bhopal city, immediately killing 8,000 people. Since then, more than 20,000 deaths have been attributed to the disaster. Survivors and their children continue to suffer long-term health effects ranging from cancer and tuberculosis to birth defects and chronic fevers.
In June 2004, the Government of India submitted a statement to the New York District Court on the Bhopal contamination clean up case asking Union Carbide to carry out the Bhopal plant-site remediation. (4)
"DOW investors, and all those who will buy this fabric, should be aware that DOW has blood on their hands and no new textile will help them hide their crimes in Bhopal. Only when they pay for all the survivors' health treatment and clean the poisonous site, will justice be done," added Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace campaigner from India protesting today in Paris.
Greenpeace has been working in Bhopal since 1999 when a team of Greenpeace scientists worked with Bhopal community groups to analyse the severity and extent of the contamination on and around the factory site. The study found substantial and, in some locations, severe contamination of land and water supplies with heavy metals and chlorinated chemicals.
Notes of the Editor
(1) International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal: International coalition of Indian and Bhopal survivors and International NGOs campaigning for justice in Bhopal
(2). Rani Niloufer and Sanjay Verma were both born in 1984, the year of the disaster. They have been suffering the effects of the toxics spread all over Bhopal since then.
(3). In 2001, the US multinational company Dow Chemicals bought Union Carbide (UCC) for USD 9.3 billion.
(4). This court has been filed by Bhopali Survivors against Union Carbide Corporate demanding their involvement of the Clean up of the contaminated site. The court was asking for the Indian government to pass its no objection.
On July 19, 2004, the Supreme Court ordered the Government of India to distribute the balance of compensation remaining from Union Carbide's settlement among the 566,876 Bhopal survivors whose claims have been successfully settled. The balance of the hitherto undistributed compensation has accumulated interest and grown to Rs. 1,505 crores (some $327 million).