Last week, protesters gathered outside Dow Chemical’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Dow headquarters in Michigan to urge Dow to take responsibility for the ongoing tragedy in Bhopal, India.
In December 1984, 27 tonnes of deadly gasses leaked from a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal killing 8-10,000 people instantly. An additional 1000,000 people have died as a result since. The abandoned factory has not been cleaned up and continues to leak toxic chemicals into the water supplies of many of the city’s poorest residents.
Union Carbide has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical since they took over the company in 2001. Since the take over, protesters around the world have challenged Dow Chemical over the outstanding liabilities within the Indian Courts and for allowing Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson to continue to abscond from justice.
Concordia College graduate and International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) advisory board member Caitlyn Schuchhardt who organised the AGM protest told us; “people don’t realize it is still going on today. There is lots of ongoing water contamination. There are medical issues of children still being born with defects.”
Although the Bhopal disaster happened almost 30 years ago, the protest must still go on, Schuchhardt said. “This issue is not going to go away. People really do care about this and want to see them do the responsible thing,” she said.
In light of the Olympic sponsorship deal between Dow Chemical and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Dow Chemical’s moral reputation has been widely regarded as controversial at best.
Last year’s 2012 Olympic Games in London prompted significant protests over the corporate sponsorship of the event and Schuchhardt doesn’t see the Bhopal protests going away.
“The backlash from last year’s Olympics was awful, absolutely awful for Dow,” she said. “I feel like if they want to do something about that, that they could really use the Olympics as a way to kind of turn this around and address the Bhopal disaster. They could turn this around and make it look good for themselves if they want to, but that does involve admitting responsibility and stepping up and doing what’s right and what’s ethical. We would love to see them do that.”
You can visit the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB)’s website here