Bhopal Gas Disaster survivors condemn discrimination by Dow Chemical

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: On the occasion of the 37th Anniversary of the 1984 December Union Carbide Bhopal Gas Disaster, leaders of four survivors’ organizations in Bhopal have condemned The Dow Chemical Company (TDCC), USA for its systematic discrimination against survivors of the gas disaster and victims of groundwater contamination.

Addressing a Press conference the organizations presented facts to counter Dow CEO, Jim Fitterling’s claims to non-discrimination by being in the Advisory Board of an LGBT+ organization. They also released a letter from senior LGBT+ activist Peter Tatchell asking Jim Fitterling to own up the legal responsibilities of Bhopal.

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Sanjana Singh an LGBT+ survivor of the Bhopal disaster said: “Fighting discrimination against LGBT+ people teaches us to fight against all forms of discrimination in society. It is wrong for Fitterling, who came out as gay, in 2014 to make claims of inclusivity while heading a company that starkly discriminates against the Bhopal survivors.”

“Dow Chemical’s premium product Chlorpyrifos is banned in USA for causing possible neurological damage, which includes reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention deficit disorders and birth defects. However, in India, Corteva, a corporation with close ties to Dow Chemical, sells it.

Chlorpyrifos with the trade name Dursban without mentioning its health hazards or its regulatory ban in USA”, said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Shahzadi Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said: “In 2014, Dow donated water filtration systems and over 100,000 US dollars in aid to Flint, Michigan, in response to contamination of the city’s drinking water source. However, in Bhopal, mercury and cancer causing chemicals have been found in the breast milk of nursing mothers living in areas affected by groundwater contamination due to hazardous waste from the Union Carbide factory and Dow refuses to clean up its toxic waste.

According to Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal group for Information & Action, in the United States Dow submits unquestioningly to government agencies and courts. In 2005 a Dow joint-venture pleaded guilty and paid 84 million dollars criminal fine for participating in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of synthetic rubber in violation of the Sherman Act. In India, Dow has ignored six separate summonses to appear in the court’s proceedings in the disaster claiming that the Indian criminal courts have no jurisdiction over TDCC. Dow Chemical’s double standards are evident in every aspect of their operations.” she said.

“In USA Dow is paying for clean-up of 171 contaminated sites including the Tittabawassee Township, which is a civil township of Saginaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan, and Saginaw river plains near its headquarters in Midland Michigan. But on the matter of cleaning up the ongoing contamination in Bhopal, Dow says it is the responsibility of the Madhya Pradesh government”, said Nousheen Khan of Children against Dow/Carbide.

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