On the occasion of the United Nations Social Justice Day (February 20th), the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) has launched a year-long United Nations campaign. The Bhopal gas disaster has reached its 30th year, and has gotten significantly worse for the affected communities.
(1) Why the United Nations has been silent on the ongoing plight of the victims of the Bhopal gas disaster, and;
(2) Why it has chosen to partner with the Dow Chemical Company, which in purchasing the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), has inherited the legal liabilities of the Bhopal gas disaster.
Finally, we ask that UN agencies be involved in easing the plight of survivors, and specifically for technical assistance from UNEP for the scientific assessment of the contamination of soil and groundwater in and around Union Carbide’s abandoned factory in Bhopal, India.
Friends of ICJB delivered this letter on February 20th to the United Nations headquarters in New Delhi and New York.
Please ask the United Nations (via twitter, Facebook, e-mail) – “United Nations, 30 years later, Bhopal is still waiting. Take action on the Bhopal gas disaster now!”
The text of the letter, delivered to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation, is as follows:
On behalf of five organizations of the survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal, India, we are writing to you for assistance by different UN agencies to help rebuild the city devastated by the world’s worst industrial disaster.
This is the year of the 30th anniversary of the disaster in Bhopal. Hundreds of people are still dying every year from the poisons they inhaled little past midnight of December 3, 1984. Today in Bhopal close to 150, 000 people are battling chronic illnesses and tens of thousands of children born after the disaster suffer growth and development disorders. Union Carbide continues to withhold medical information on leaked gases as “trade secrets” and the appropriate medical treatment for exposure induced illnesses remain to be available to the chronically ill survivors.
While Union Carbide was taken over by The Dow Chemical Company in 2001, its pesticide factory lies abandoned in Bhopal. The Indian government’s scientific agency has recently reported toxic chemicals and heavy metals in groundwater as far as 3 kilometres from the factory. These poisons are leaching from recklessly dumped hazardous waste and are endangering the health of 50 thousand neighbourhood residents who have drunk the local groundwater for over two decades. A comprehensive scientific assessment of the depth and spread of Dow Chemical’s contaminants, essential for designing interventions for environmental remediation, remains to be carried out.
Through this letter we urge you to direct different UN agencies to take stock of the ongoing disasters in Bhopal with a view to providing technical assistance in the areas of health care, medical research and environmental assessment.
In particular we look forward to assistance from WHO in developing effective treatment protocols for disaster related illnesses, from UNEP in scientific assessment of the environmental damage wrought by Union Carbide and now Dow Chemical and from United Nations Human Rights Council for the production of a report on the ongoing human rights violations in Bhopal due to the acts of omission and commission by the two US corporations.
Further we call upon you to terminate the membership of The Dow Chemical Company, USA in the United Nations Foundation in view of its continuing violation of the human rights of the people of Bhopal through denial of toxic clean up in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory.
We enclose a brief fact sheet on the current situation in Bhopal and with regard to the US corporations. We will be happy to send you additional information that you may need before taking any decision on these urgent matters.
We hope that the UN will provide much needed assistance to the survivors of Bhopal and drop Dow Chemical as its “Partner” before the disaster enters its fourth decade this December.