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Today is the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal catastrophe
Thursday December 03, 2009 15:20 by Feudal castrato
Today is the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster . At the Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on December 3, 1984. Around 12 AM, methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins were released, resulting in the exposure of over 500,000 people. Estimates vary on the death toll - the official immediate death toll was 2,259, which rose greatly over time.
This is how they dress in the (western) factories when handling half the stuff you keep in your kitchen press or garden shed
Today is the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal catastrophe.
Wikipedia has this to say:
"The Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) disaster - also known as the Bhopal disaster or the Bhopal gas tragedy - was an industrial catastrophe that took place at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on December 3, 1984. Around 12 AM, the plant released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins, resulting in the exposure of over 500,000 people. Estimates vary on the death toll - the official immediate death toll was 2,259, which rose greatly over time. The government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Another source says that a few days later the death toll had doubled. Over the next few years, the lingering effects of the poison nearly doubled the toll again, to about 15,000, according to government estimates. Local activists say the real numbers are almost twice that.Others estimate 8,000-10,000 died within 72 hours and 25,000 have since died from gas-related diseases.
Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tonnes of toxic chemicals abandoned at the Union Carbide plant continue to leak and pollute the ground water in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents who depend on it, though there is some dispute as to whether the chemicals still stored at the site pose any continuing health hazard. There are currently civil and criminal cases related to the disaster ongoing in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India against Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical Company, with arrest warrants pending against Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster. No one has yet been prosecuted."
The incident highlights the cavalier attitude of corporations to the welfare of their workers and to polluting the environment. Also it highlights in no uncertain terms the way such large corporations manage to wriggle out of their responsibilities time and time again, leaving a legacy of environmental degradation and human suffering.
Bhopal and the exxon valdez spill stand as stark reminders of how we cannot trust transnational corporations to behave themselves if left to their own devices. (recently, exxon mobil got off paying most of their paltry fine.) They also highlight the powerlessness of small communities or even whole countries to rein them in when they operate across national borders and play one country off against another when they don't get their way.
If we are to move towards a more humane and sustainable way of living then we need to address the nature of transnational corporations and find a workable mechanism to control their more sociopathic behaviour patterns. Of course the ability to dissolve a corporation is enshrined in US law but to my knowledge it has rarely ever been used. I wonder why?
Spare a thought for the long suffering people of Bhopal, many of whom have still yet to receive a penny of compensation after 25 years. And next time you are shopping, don't buy anything from corporate sources if they have a dubious ethical record. Of course that truly limits the amount of useless and poisonous crap that you can buy. But is that really such a bad thing?
Some links to get you started:
The corporation (a must watch!)
EXXON VALDEZ settlement info:
In 1994, a jury awarded plaintiffs $287 million in compensatory damages and $5 billion in punitive damages. Exxon appealed and the Ninth Circuit court reduced the punitive damages to $2.5 billion. Exxon then appealed the punitive damages to the Supreme Court which capped the damages to $507.5 million in June, 2008. On August 27, 2008, Exxon Mobil agreed to pay 75% of the $507.5 million damages ruling to settle the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska