14 Dow Chemical takes over Union Carbide

From Sathyu’s Introduction to Bhopal for Young People

In 2001, another US corporation, The Dow Chemical Company took over Union Carbide Corporation. Dow and Union Carbide have long been in the same business. Both produced poisonous gases for killing people in the two world wars and both were part of the project that led to dropping atom bombs on Japan. Between 1962 and 1971 Dow Chemical supplied a chemical called Agent Orange that causes cancers, birth defects and injuries to liver, kidney and other problems, to the US Army for spraying over large areas of Vietnam. Today, in 2011, there are over 100,000 children in Vietnam who are born disabled because of the spray of Agent Orange.

Until 2000, Dow sold a pesticide in the USA called Dursban; it was very popular. But then the US Environmental Protection Agency found that Dursban was causing serious harm to the brains of growing children and the corporation had to withdraw it from the market. In the same year, Dow started the production and selling of Dursban in India in a big way and continues to do so.

Dow Chemical follows this policy of double standards in other issues too. In Texas, USA a number of workers of Union Carbide had suffered injuries because the corporate bosses had been negligent and Union Carbide was ordered by the court to pay compensation. After Dow Chemical took over Union Carbide, it was Dow Chemical that paid the compensation to the workers as the owner of Union Carbide. But when it comes to cleaning up the thousands of tons of poisonous waste from Bhopal or to pay compensation for the health damages because of the contaminated ground water, Dow Chemical says all this happened before they purchased Union Carbide so they will not accept responsibility. Of course this is contrary to what the laws in USA and India say on such matters.

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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.