13 Union Carbide’s response

From Sathyu’s Introduction to Bhopal for Young People

The bosses in the USA were shocked to hear about the disaster, which is weird because they knew two years previously that it was a disaster waiting to happen. However, their shock was not due to the death and misery in Bhopal, they were worried about two things: that they would have to pay a lot of money as compensation and that their image would be spoiled meaning they would not be able to do business as before.

When the news of the disaster in Bhopal reached UCC, the first people that the top bosses of Union Carbide contacted were people in the public relations (PR) business. These PR people coached UCC bosses in how to answer questions asked by journalists and lawyers. They also advised them on how to avoid paying compensation or get away by paying as little as possible.

In talking to journalists and others, Union Carbide’s bosses said that what happened in Bhopal was just an accident that they could not have known about, that the safety systems in the Bhopal factory were of the same standard as the factory in USA and that the health problems of most people would soon go away. The corporation’s lawyers said that the American company and its bosses could not be held responsible because the Bhopal factory was run by Indian people and that lawyers will ask for proof from each of the half million person who are demanding compensation, proof that their ill health is because of the gas exposure.

Today, in 2011, Union Carbide’s bosses who should be facing trial for causing death and illness among hundreds of thousands of people are still absconding from Indian courts. They have paid just $500 as compensation to people who have had to spend much more than that on just paying medical bills. And to the families of the people who died because of the disaster the corporation’s bosses gave $2000. One of the most awful things that the corporation continues to do is clamp down on medical information about the poisonous gases, that only the corporation has. Had they passed on this information it would have been easier for doctors in Bhopal to take care of people and for people to take precautions about health problems that could happen in future or in the next generation.

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.