As the Indian Supreme Court acknowledges the contamination disaster in Bhopal to be spreading,1 the long-standing CEO of Dow Chemical, the corporation adjudged responsible by campaigners, is to step down.2
In 2017, Dow merged with DuPont to create the world’s largest chemical corporation and a high-level UN Official voiced serious concern about the merger explaining it could obstruct justice for victims of the world’s deadliest industrial disaster in Bhopal.3
For the victims and survivors of the Bhopal tragedy– and their supporters in India and around the world– Andrew Liveris legacy is indifference and inaction: indifference to their suffering; inaction in the face of injustice.
When Dow acquired Union Carbide, it acquired the Bhopal problem; as Dow has become DowDupont Co and restructures itself further, it will continue to pay the price in billions of dollars of lost business opportunity in India, where the memory of the tragedy will be kept alive until action is taken and justice is done.4
It is now up to the new CEO Jim Fitterling– and the board together with the shareholders of DowDupont: act to compensate the victims and remediate the site; or pay a steeper price as every year passes and the contamination spreads further.
1: On March 8, a division bench of Supreme Court judges asked the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) to arrange a safe, piped water supply to five further communities impacted by toxic contamination of the groundwater they use as their primary supply.
This brings the number of affected colonies acknowledged by the SC to 27 while the Bhopal Group for Information & Action (BGIA), a member of the monitoring committee appointed by the Supreme Court, states that 42 colonies are affected: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/dumped-toxic-waste-from-defunct-carbide-plant-affects-20-more-areas/articleshow/63243525.cms
The contaminated water results from toxic chemicals leaching into the groundwater from chemical waste abandoned by Dow subsidiary Union Carbide. Detailed contamination briefing: https://www.bhopal.org/water-contamination-briefing/
2: Andrew Liveris to step down as DowDuPont executive chair. Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/ae7b81cc-25dc-11e8-b27e-cc62a39d57a0
3: Baskut Tuncak, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes: “This merger creates yet another layer of legal hurdles for victims to arrive at any semblance of an effective remedy and accountability for a preventable disaster now more than 30 years old.” Bhopal disaster victims may never get compensation following Dow-DuPont merger, fears UN official
4(i): Submissions to the SEC by shareholders in March 2014 demonstrated substantial material omissions in Dow’s assertion of no financial, operational or reputational impact due to Bhopal disaster-related issues.
Shareholders provided proof that three significant business deals, and a $5 billion investment plan, were impeded in India due to Bhopal.
They also demonstrated that the reputational impact upon Dow has been global and has had increasing effects, leading to a major fall in brand rating and putting Dow in the top 20 corporations targeted by activists globally. Co-filers issued press statements about the exclusion of the resolution before Dow’s 2014 AGM: Press Statement, Calvert Investments & Dow Blocks Amnesty International Calls To Face Up to the Toxic Legacy of Bhopal & Dow Shields Shareholders From Toxic Truth in Bhopal
4(ii): Proposed Dow Chemical Shareholder Resolutions Highlight Investment Problems in India for Dow. More detail: https://www.bhopal.org/dow-shareholder-resolutions-calvert-investments/