News Release

Bhopal: 20 Years After the Disaster


A series of events are planned this week as human rights, legal, environmental and other experts are demanding that Dow Chemical, the current owner of Union Carbide, be held accountable for the Bhopal disaster, which took place 20 years ago in India.

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 1:00 p.m. ET there will be a media teleconference call. It will include:

* Irene Zubaida Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, which has just released the report “Clouds of Injustice: Bhopal Disaster 20 Years on.” She is currently in London. The report states: “More than 7,000 people died within a matter of days when toxic gases leaked from a chemical plant in Bhopal, India, on the night of 2/3 December 1984. Over the last 20 years exposure to the toxins has resulted in the deaths of a further 15,000 people as well as chronic and debilitating illnesses for thousands of others for which treatment is largely ineffective.”

* Rajan Sharma, currently in New York City, is the primary attorney representing the Bhopal survivors since 1999.

* Rachna Dingra of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal will talk about the latest from Bhopal.

* Ryan Bodanyi is coordinator of Students for Bhopal, which is organizing events at colleges around the world.
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Director of the Dow Accountability Project at the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, Ruiz said today: “At least 150,000 people, including children born to parents who survived the disaster, are suffering from exposure-related health effects such as cancer, neurological damage, chaotic menstrual cycles and mental illness. Over 20,000 people are forced to drink water laced with unsafe levels of mercury, carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals…. Union Carbide Corporation [now owned by Dow] and its former chairman Warren Anderson face serious criminal charges at the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal. Neither party has appeared in court to face trial, and both have been declared absconders (fugitives from justice) by the Bhopal court.”
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Doyle is author of the new book Trespass Against Us: Dow Chemical and the Toxic Century. He said today: “Personal and public health, human blood and body tissue, reproduction and developmental biology — these are the highest, most personal, most sacrosanct forms of property. Yet chemical companies like Dow are regularly violating — trespassing — on human health and well being.”
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Legislative director of the Greenpeace Toxics Campaign, Hind has examined the Bhopal disaster. He said today: “In addition to accidents, we now face terrorism as a new way that chemical plants could be turned into weapons of mass destruction. Since 2001, Congress has failed to adopt legislation to prevent chemical plant disasters. However, chemical security legislation will be re-introduced in the beginning of 2005.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167