20 years are more than enough: justice must be served in Bhopal
Bhopal, India, 2 December 2004 - Greenpeace activists around the world are remembering the world's worst industrial
disaster, twenty years after a toxic gas leak killed and maimed thousands in the Indian city of Bhopal (1). Bearing
candles and photos of people stricken by the poisonous gas leak, the activists are calling on DOW Chemical to take full
responsibility for Bhopal.
"Twenty years on, people in Bhopal are still suffering because DOW Chemical refuses to take responsibility for their
welfare or for the toxic waste that is still poisoning their land and water (2). Thousands around the world are
remembering Bhopal and what its stands for today - the danger of the chemical age, double standards and lack of
accountability of multi-national corporations," said Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace campaigner in Bhopal.
Greenpeace activists in fifteen countries, and seven Indian cities, including Bhopal, will hold candlelight vigils and
form human chains. In Switzerland, they will deliver an exact replica of the memorial statue in Bhopal to the DOW
European headquarters in Zurich. Photo exhibitions showing people impacted by the poisoned gas and the contamination of
the site are being held in Belgium, France, Australia, India, Slovakia and China, among others.
"In an increasingly globalised world, there is a need for corporations like DOW to use consistent standards around the
world and take responsibility for their operations. If this disaster had happened in Europe or the US, the site would
have been cleaned and the people fully compensated. We demand that DOW takes full responsibility for the horrendous
disaster in Bhopal", Gerd Leipold, Greenpeace International Executive Director will say at a seminar on Bhopal and
corporate accountability in Brussels on December 3rd.
Greenpeace and International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) (3) are demanding that DOW, the multinational
chemical leader, pays for the health treatment of the survivors, cleans up the large stockpiles of dangerous poisons
left behind at the factory site since the disaster and cleans up the contaminated underground water. They are also
calling for international corporate accountability legislation to make sure disasters like Bhopal never happen again.
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). A further 20,000 people remain at risk of being poisoned by toxic waste that has been abandoned at the site since
the disaster. The toxic chemicals include carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals
such as mercury, according to the scientific findings of Greenpeace in 1999, 2002 and 2004.
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.