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This website provides resources on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and wastes. Valuable examples of community monitoring of health and environmental impacts of toxic chemicals are also furnished.

Further, there is an entire section devoted to chemical safety in its proper socio-political context or in relation to issues such as globalization and people's empowerment.

 

Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Bhopal in Support of Survivors -- Calls for Justice!

Groups Demand Dow Chemical makes its subsidiary, Union Carbide, face criminal charges pending against it

by Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific

“It is outrageous that 20 years on, the survivors of Bhopal have not seen the justice they deserve”, asserts PAN Executive Director, Sarojeni V. Rengam. “Bhopal is a horrific example of a corporate crime gone unpunished, and is totally unacceptable and unconscionable”, she adds.

The international Pesticide Action Network launched December 3 as the global “No Pesticides Use Day“ in 19981, in commemoration of the world’s worst chemical disaster in 1984. Between December 2-3, 1984, twenty-seven tons of lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide’s pesticide factory. The leak immediately killed 8,000 people and injured more than 500,000. Tens of thousands have died from the toxic exposure in the years since, and the death toll continues to rise as a result of long-term effects.

“The tragedy may have occurred in 1984, but the people continue to suffer to this day. PAN AP and our partners around the world demand that both Union Carbide and its new owner Dow Chemical live up to their responsibilities2, and stop evading their pending liabilities”, states Rengam.

During the People’s Caravan for Food Sovereignty that took place in September this year, PAN AP and partners held a meeting at Hindi Bhawan in Bhopal, in solidarity with the victim-survivors. At that meeting, community representatives related the horrific legacy of the gas tragedy: "Children and pregnant women suffered the most. These chemicals and the pesticides attacked children at a very vulnerable stage of development and have permanently damaged their ability to fight diseases, and their mental, physical and sexual development"3.

As noted by The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, presently 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, nausea, breathlessness, numb limbs, headaches, body aches, fevers, anxiety attacks, chaotic menstrual cycles, depression and mental illness. Over 20,000 people are forced to drink water laced with alarmingly high levels of mercury, dichlorobenzene, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals. Traces of lead and mercury have also been found in the breast milk of women living in these communities. Many of the victims do not have access to appropriate medical treatment and are unable to pursue their usual means of livelihood due to illness.

Dow Chemical has refused to make its new subsidiary, Union carbide, appear before the Bhopal District Court to face the criminal charges pending against it. Earlier this year, the Bhopal court issued notice to Dow Chemical’s office in India asking the company to explain why it has not produced its subsidiary Union Carbide. The Supreme Court of India, in its judicial review in October 1991, held that the 1989 settlement did not extinguish criminal charges, and directed that the criminal prosecution against Union Carbide must proceed in the courts of India4.
PAN AP joins the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal to demand that Dow Chemical Company take the following actions:
· Clean up the poisoned groundwater and contaminated areas within and outside the factory;
· Release medical information about toxicity of methyl isocyanine (MIC) and poison gases, and arrange for long-term medical treatment and rehabilitation for survivors;
· Arrange for long-term economic rehabilitation of survivors whose livelihoods have suffered as a consequence of the disaster; and
· Produce Union Carbide to face trial in the ongoing criminal proceedings in India.

This year, aside from mobilising media attention on the Bhopal Anniversary, PAN AP has provided support to various groups for activities in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, and China.5

“This December 3, PAN AP has called on our regional partners to join in support of the Global Day of Action to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Bhopal, We also assert our call for corporate accountability of not only Dow Chemicals, but all agro-chemical corporations that continue to profit from pesticides”, explains Rengam. “PAN AP takes this opportunity to express our support for the Bhopal survivors, and dedicate the planned ‘No Pesticides Use Day’ actions to the resilience of their struggle”, she concludes.

For more information contact:

Sarojeni V. Rengam, Executive Director, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific, Penang, Malaysia. Handphone: +60 16 478 9545 PAN AP Tel: +604 657 0271/ +604 656 0381 Email: panap@panap.net, saroj@pc.jaring.my

Jennifer Mourin, No pesticides Use Day Coordinator, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific, Penang, Malaysia. Tel: +604 657 0271/ +604 656 0381 Email: panap@panap.net


Notes:

1. On December 3, 1998, the global Pesticide Action Network (PAN) launched the "NO Pesticides Use Day" in commemoration of the hundreds who died, and the thousands who suffered the disaster at Bhopal. Every year on December 3, campaigns are initiated in many countries to remind of the hazardous effects of pesticides on human health and environment. The alarming consolidation of the pesticides and seeds industries, and aggressive marketing of herbicide-resistant crops being developed via genetic engineering technology, is leading to a dramatic increase in pesticide use in developing countries. This has accelerated dependence on pesticide use world-wide.

2. In 2001 Union Carbide became a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. Dow, according to its own public statements, made the decision to acquire the company with full knowledge of the criminal charges pending against Carbide and their status as a fugitive from justice. Despite repeated public requests and protests around the world, Dow Chemical has refused to make its new subsidiary appear before the Bhopal District Court to face the criminal charges pending against it. Dow also insists that Union Carbide corrected the situation when they settled the civil damages for $470 million with the Indian government in 1989. However, this settlement did not extinguish the criminal charges against the company or its officials. Moreover, the settlement amount, which was based on inaccurate statistics about the scale and magnitude of the disaster, resulted in each survivor getting only $500 (Rs. 25,000) – barely enough to pay for a few years of medical costs. Source: The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, Fact Sheet, available at: http://www.bhopal.net

3. For more information, See Peoples Caravan Website at: http://www.panap.net/caravan

4. Information Source: The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, Fact Sheet, available at: http://www.bhopal.net

5. For more information, See PAN AP Website: http://www.panap.net

 


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