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E-M:/ Bhopal survivors tour US and bring their case to Dow



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Enviro-Mich message from Tracey Easthope <tracey@ecocenter.org>
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2002

Chemical Disaster Survivors Confront Dow Chemical on Pending Liabilities

Contacts:
Amit Srivastava, CorpWatch  415 336 7584
Neil Tangri, Essential Action 202 387 8030

Washington DC:  Representatives of survivors from the worst chemical 
disaster in history--the gas leak from the Union Carbide plant in 
Bhopal, India in 1984 that killed thousands--have begun a tour in the 
United States to bring attention to Dow Chemical Corporation's 
pending liabilities of the gas disaster 17 years ago as well as the 
ongoing poisoning of the communities in Bhopal from the now abandoned 
plant.  Dow merged with Union Carbide in February 2001. The activists 
will be in Michigan from May 7 through May 10 and will speak at the 
Dow Annual General Shareholder meeting in Midland on May 9.

The Justice in Bhopal tour will hold a public event in DC on Monday, 
May 6 at 6:30 pm at the Martin Luther King Public Library, Room A 10 
(9th and G Streets, NW, Washington DC).  The tour includes stops in 
Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose, Ann Arbor and New 
York.

In December 1984, lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide's pesticide 
factory in Bhopal, India, killing upwards of 8,000 people within 
three days, and over 20,000 people have died since.  Even today, more 
than 30 people continue to die every month as a result of the gas 
exposure.

What has exacerbated the problem even more is the presence of 
thousands of tons of toxic waste, left behind recklessly by Union 
Carbide in and around the now abandoned plant.  Studies have shown 
that the toxins have contaminated the ground water and the soil, and 
high levels of toxins are showing up in mother's milk in the resident 
who live in the area.  US Courts have ruled that Carbide is 
potentially responsible for the contamination and resulting health 
damages in Bhopal.

Carbide officials, including the then CEO Warren Anderson, who are 
charged with manslaughter and other serious offences, have refused to 
appear in Indian courts to face criminal trial relating to the gas 
disaster. Following Dow's acquisition of Carbide, Indian authorities 
have initiated legal action to name Dow as party in the criminal 
prosecution in Indian courts.

Dow Chemical maintains that there are no more pending liabilities in 
Bhopal.  In sharp contrast to its stand in India, Dow has accepted 
its liabilities from Carbide's asbestos related litigation in the US. 
In January 2002, Dow reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed in Texas 
against Union Carbide, which had mined asbestos and operated a unit 
that made products containing asbestos. This sent stock prices down 
by as much as 14 percent.  In a twisted move, Dow Chemical is now 
investing substantially in India, one of the products being Dursban, 
a pesticide that is on its way out in the US for noncommerical uses 
because of EPA action due to safety concerns.

"The whole Union Carbide fiasco, and now Dow Chemical, exemplifies 
the double standards employed by powerful corporations," said Dr. 
Trivedi, a Bhopal survivor and a physician.

According to Neil Tangri of Essential Action, one of the sponsors for 
the DC event, "the tour is designed to mobilize support for justice 
in Bhopal by making connections to local struggles here in the US and 
making sure there are no more Bhopals." Activists from Bhopal are 
expected to draw parallels to recent controversy around contamination 
of the Midland and Saginaw areas with dioxin.

The tour and other activities is sponsored by Action against 
Corporate Crime and Toxic Terror (AcCcTt), an international coalition 
that includes Bhopal-based organizations Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery 
Karmchari Sangh, Gas Peedit Nirashit Morcha and Bhopal Group for 
Information and Action and their allies Bhopal Action Resource 
Center, CorpWatch, Greenpeace, National Campaign for Justice in 
Bhopal,  the Ecology Center in Michigan and The Other Media.

For more information on Bhopal, including the tour itinerary, visit 
www.CorpWatchIndia.org, www.greenpeace.org/~toxics and www.bhopal.org

-- 


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