Faculty for Justice in Bhopal sign now

Whereas, questions of corporate responsibility, ethics and accountability are today recognized as imperative issues having significant impact upon human rights, the environment, consumer and labor rights;

Whereas, the leakage of 27 tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) and other poisonous gases {1} from Union Carbide's pesticide factory on the night of December 2, 1984, killed an estimated 8000 people in the first three days {2} and poisoned more than 500,000 {3};

Whereas, nearly 80 percent of those exposed to the poison gases come from poor, working class families, of which nearly 50,000 people are today too sick to work and are thus driven to destitution {4};

Whereas, at least 120,000 people remain chronically ill {5}, and 30 people die each month from the long-term effects of the gases, {6} which crossed into the bloodstream and caused multi-systemic effects {7};

Whereas, Union Carbide and their new owner, Dow Chemical, refuse to release medical research on the health effects of the gases to treating physicians, calling the information a 'trade secret' {8};

Whereas, the disaster was caused because Union Carbide had under-invested in an inherently hazardous facility located in a crowded neighborhood, used admittedly unproven designs, stored lethal MIC in reckless quantities, dismantled safety systems and cut down on safety staff and training in an effort to cut costs {9};

Whereas, numerous people including Union Carbide's own workers and design engineers had warned of the potential for a huge disaster in the factory {10};

Whereas, Union Carbide and its new owner, Dow Chemical, continue to blame the disaster on a fictitious (and as yet unnamed) worker {11};

Whereas, in 1987 India's Central Bureau of Investigation charged Union Carbide Corporation and its officials, including then CEO Warren Anderson, with manslaughter among other offences {12};

Whereas, the Union Carbide Corporation and Warren Anderson have acted in contempt of due process and the rule of law by criminally absconding from the courts till date {13};

Whereas, Union Carbide Corporation has not come forward to clean up its toxic wastes, and its new owner, Dow Chemical, has argued that the polluted, not the polluter, should pay for the clean up {14};

Whereas, 20,000 people in the vicinity of the Union Carbide factory continue to be exposed to carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals abandoned by Union Carbide in and around its factory site in Bhopal during routine operations {15};

Whereas, in February 2001, Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide as a wholly owned subsidiary, despite warnings from Bhopal survivors, their supporters, and shareholders {16} that all of Union Carbide's pending liabilities would be assumed by Dow, as per merger law {17};

Whereas, Dow Chemical, a $30 billion company, refuses to assume Union Carbide's environmental and criminal liabilities in Bhopal, claiming Union Carbide to be a separate company {18};

Whereas, Dow set aside $2.2 billion in 2002 to resolve Union Carbide's asbestos liabilities in Texas, reducing Dow's share price by 23\% and conceding that Carbide's liabilities are Dow's {19};

Whereas, the people of Bhopal have waged one of the longest-ever struggles for justice against a transnational corporation, one which epitomizes the worst abuses of globalization and the challenges involved in holding corporations accountable;

Whereas, corporations such as Dow and Union Carbide cannot be allowed to commit crimes with impunity;

Whereas, legal mechanisms for ensuring corporate accountability remain piecemeal and ineffectual, making responsibility discretional and liability difficult to establish or enforce;

Whereas, whenever accountability mechanisms fail to ensure that basic human rights are upheld and that criminals are punished, it is the responsibility of citizens and their organizations and institutions to advance the spirit of the law;

Whereas, teachers, faculty members and educational institutions ought to foster and uphold respect for life and the environment in their own interactions and in society;


1. Face Trial : Ensure that prime accused Warren Anderson, former chairman of Union Carbide ceases absconding from criminal justice in India and the authorized representatives of the company [Dow-Union Carbide] face trial in the Bhopal criminal court.

2. Provide long term health care: Assume responsibility for the continuing and long term health consequences among the exposed persons and potentially their future generations. This includes medical care, health monitoring and necessary research studies. The company must provide all information on the leaked gases and their medical consequences.

3. Clean up the poison: Remove the contamination of the ground water and soil in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. Provide for supply of safe drinking water to the community.

4. Provide Economic and social support : The corporation must provide income opportunities to victims who can not pursue their usual trade as a result of exposure induced illnesses and income support to families rendered destitute due to death or incapacitation of the breadwinner of the family.


1. Sponsoring or joining a resolution before a national academic association, an alumni association, my union or my universitys faculty assembly, calling on Dow to accept its moral and legal responsibilities in Bhopal. The resolution may also express sympathy for the victims of the Bhopal disaster, solidarity with their struggle for justice, and support for the campaigns demands. If my college or university is invested in Dow or accepts funding from the company, my resolution may also ask for these associations to cease until Dow accepts responsibility for Bhopal.

2. Discussing the Bhopal disaster with active students and student groups on campus, and working with them to develop a campus-wide campaign for justice in Bhopal.

3. Asking my college, university, or pension fund to divest from Dow stock. Given Dows huge outstanding liabilitiesincluding Bhopal; Agent Orange {20}; Dursban {21}; DBCP {22}; Plaquemine, LA {23}; and Midland, MI {24}the company is simply not a good investment. More importantly, its fair to ask whether an investment in a corporation that refuses to remediate the impacts of its own pollutionto the detriment of thousands of livesis ethically possible.

4. Observing December 3rd, the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, as the International Day of Action Against Corporate Crime. I may devote a few minutes of class time to the tragedy, host a documentary showing and discussion, or help organize a commemorative vigil.

5. Organizing a seminar or lecture series around the Bhopal disaster and my academic field. {25} Many people are unaware of the scale and ongoing aftermath of the Bhopal disaster. In keeping the memory of the disaster alive, we pay tribute to those that have died, enable the struggle for the living to continue, and strive to ensure a future without other Bhopals.

6. Writing an op-ed about the Bhopal tragedy for an academic journal, a university publication, or a local newspaper.

7. Learning more about the Bhopal disaster by visiting www.bhopal.net, www.bhopal.org, and the bibliography page of www.studentsforbhopal.org.


{1} This figure is quoted both by VR Dhara (Dhara, VR; Dhara, Rosaline. The Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal: A Review of Health Effects. Environmental Health Sept./Oct. 2002; Vol. 57, No. 5, pp. 391-404. Available at: http://webdrive.service.emory.edu/users/vdhara/www.BhopalPublications/Health\%20Effects\%20&\%20Epidemiology/Health\%20Effects\%20Review\%20AEH.pdf) and Ward Morehouse (Morehouse W, Subramaniam MA. The Bhopal Tragedy: What Really Happened and What it Means for American Workers and Communities at Risk. New York: Council on International and Public Affairs, 1986), but alternate figures do exist. According to the Bhopal Methyl Isocyanate Incident Investigation Team Report, published by the Union Carbide Corporation (Connecticut, March 1985), plant inventory documents show that there were 41 metric tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) in the tank that ruptured, #610. Union Carbides Team Report concludes that 24.5 metric tonnes of unreacted MIC escaped from tank 610 along with 11.79 tonnes of reaction products, and that 4.5 to 9.5 metric tonnes of solid reaction products were left behind in tank 610. The Report on Scientific Studies on the Factors Related to Bhopal Toxic Gas Leakage (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, December 1985), a report produced by a team of Indian government scientists, similarly concludes that there were 42 metric tonnes of MIC in tank 610 at the time of the gas leak. However the report also concludes that only about 12 tonnes of MIC were used up to produce the 12.5 tonnes of solid residue estimated to be present.

{2} Figure of 8,000 cited in New Scientist Magazine. Fresh evidence on Bhopal disaster. December 2, 2002. Available at: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993140. Estimates come from independent relief organizations working in Bhopal immediately after the gas leak, and were based on evidence such as the number of funeral shrouds (kafans) sold by the local Cloth Merchant Association. See Five Past Midnight in Bhopal, Javier Moro & Dominique Lapierre, 2001, pgs. 365-366.

{3} Exactly 521,262 according to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). See Five Past Midnight in Bhopal, Javier Moro & Dominique Lapierre, 2001, p 366. Figure of 500,000 cited in The New York Times. Bhopal Seethes, Pained and Poor 18 Years Later. Amy Waldman, September 21, 2002.

{4} The Bhopal Gas Tragedy, 1984 - ? a report from the Sambhavna Trust, Bhopal, November 1998, pgs. 11-13. The Sambhavna Trust provides free clinic and community based medical care to Bhopal gas survivors: see www.bhopal.org.

{5} The Washington Post. India Seeks to Reduce Charge Facing Ex-Union Carbide Boss. Rama Lakshmi, July 8, 2002. According to The International Medical Commission, Bhopal, it is our opinion that, if properly defined, categories of permanent damage, partial or total disability, could include about 200,000 survivors. International Perspectives in Public Health, 1996, Volumes 11 and 12, p. 27.

{6} According to The Centre for Rehabilitation Studies (an office of the Madhya Pradesh governments Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Dept.) 1998 Annual Report, the mortality rate among the exposed community in 1997 was 6.70/1000, whereas in the unexposed community it was 5.37/1000, producing a figure of 665 deaths above the mortality rate in the exposed community - or approximately 50 gas related deaths per month. No official figures exist for subsequent years. Further, according to a 1987 ICMR report, the mortality rate in the exposed community was 9.98/100 and in the unexposed community was 6.03/1000, meaning approximately 150 gas related deaths per month in 1986. Assuming a steady ratio of depreciation in mortality of 6\% per year, in 2003 there were therefore over 30 deaths per month due to gas exposure. However, it is worth noting that six monthly morbidity studies conducted by the ICMR between 1987-1991 show that the number of people with gas related symptoms actually increased in that period.

{7} International Perspectives in Public Health, 1996, Volumes 11 and 12, p. 31.

{8} Cited in The New York Times. Bhopal Seethes, Pained and Poor 18 Years Later. Amy Waldman, September 21, 2002. This refusal is inexplicable, as trade secret provisions do not, in fact, apply. This was revealed in a Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) meeting shortly after the Bhopal disaster, at which Union Carbide representatives were present: Trade secret protections under the federal standard extend only to chemical identity, not hazard information. Chemical identity information which is a trade secret is made available to those who have a legitimate need for it, such as treating physicians. See page 34 of the CMA Executive Committee Meeting Agenda, January 28, 1985, available at: http://www.chemicalindustryarchives.org/search/pdfs/cma/19850128_00000473.pdf.

{9} According to Union Carbides own documentation, obtained through discovery in the New York civil suit. Much of this documentation is available online, at http://www.bhopal.net/poisonpapers.html. See also New Scientist Magazine. Fresh evidence on Bhopal disaster. December 2, 2002. Available at: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993140. And: The Financial Express. Global Funds Tell Union Carbide To Settle Bhopal Gas Leak Claims. Ajay Jain, December 5, 2002. Available at: http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=23259.

{10} In May 1982, an American safety audit found a total of 61 hazards, 30 of them major and 11 in the dangerous phosgene/MIC units. It had warned of a higher potential for a serious incident or more serious consequences if an accident should occur. Though the report was available to senior U.S. officials of the company, nothing was done. See The New York Times. Union Carbide Had Been Told of Leak Danger. Philip Shabecoff, January 25, 1985. See also The New York Times. 1982 Report Cited Safety Problems at Plant in India. Thomas J. Lueck, December 11, 1984. Also: The Christian Science Monitor. Confidential Indian report blames both US firm and subsidiary for Bhopal disaster. Mary Anne Weaver, March 26, 1985. And: Time Magazine. Clouds of Uncertainty; For Bhopal and Union Carbide, the tragedy continues. Pico Iyer, December 24, 1984.

{11} This assertion was contradicted by Union Carbides own CEO, Warren Anderson, in testimony before a Congressional subcommittee on March 26. Mr. Anderson was quoted (The New York Times: Discrepancies are Seen in Bhopal Court Papers, Stuart Diamond, January 3, 1986) as saying that there was no evidence whatsoever that sabotage was behind the incident at Bhopal. Mr. Anderson was also quoted at a March, 1985 press briefing as saying that sabotage is always a potential and you have to worry about it. Thats why you need the redundancy Built into the safety system are a whole series of capabilities that can take care of whatever inadvertent action or commission has taken place so youre not all dependent on just one item to either make it safe or make it unsafe. See Section 65 of the Amended Class Action Complaint before the Southern District Court of New York, the full text of which is available at: http://www.bhopal.net/oldsite/amendedplaint.html. Finally, Jackson Browning, Union Carbides Vice President for Health, Safety and Environmental Affairs, was quoted by the Chemical and Engineering News (April 8th 1985) as testifying before a Congressional committee that "the MIC tank line fittings are colored-coded and that the water line couplings are incompatible with the gas line couplings that go into the tank"therefore making a deliberate introduction of water into the MIC tank, as Union Carbide has claimed, almost impossible. See The New York Times. Bhopal Seethes, Pained and Poor 18 Years Later. Amy Waldman, September 21, 2002. See also New Scientist Magazine. Fresh evidence on Bhopal disaster. December 2, 2002. Available at: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993140.

{12} Anderson and Union Carbide both stand accused of culpable homicide (manslaughter), grievous assault, poisoning and killing of animals and other offenses. See The Washington Post. India Seeks to Reduce Charge Facing Ex-Union Carbide Boss. Rama Lakshmi, July 8, 2002. See also the BBC. India to Extradite Bhopal Boss. September 6, 2002. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2240895.stm.

{13} Although the Indian Government published proclamations in The Washington Post (January 1st and February 21st, 1992) calling on Mr. Anderson and the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) to present themselves before the court in Bhopal, neither has obeyed the summons. Both have been labeled absconders from justice by the Indian Government. Mr. Anderson disappeared shortly after Interpol released an international warrant for his arrest, and his whereabouts were unknown for more than a decade. The Washington Post. India Seeks to Reduce Charge Facing Ex-Union Carbide Boss. Rama Lakshmi, July 8, 2002.

{14} Dow has argued that since it does not own the former Union Carbide factory site in Bhopal (the site was only leased from the Madhya Pradesh government, and that lease has expired), it cannot be held responsible for the contamination there. This stand is contradicted by the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rule of 1989 594(E), Section 3 Sub section (1) and Section 4(1), which stipulates that the producers of the contaminated waste are responsible for decontamination. The polluter pays principle is also enshrined in the Environmental Protection Act, passed in India in 1986. Ruling in Vellore Citizens' Welfare Forum v. Union of India (1996) 5 SCC.647, the Indian Supreme Court declared that, . . .Once the activity carried on is hazardous or inherently dangerous, the person carrying on such activity is liable to make good the loss caused to any other person by his activity irrespective of the fact whether he took reasonable care while carrying on his activity. The rule is premised upon the very nature of the activity carried on. Elaborating on the polluter pays principle in MC Mehta v. Union of India (1997) 2 SCC 353, the Supreme Court ruled that polluter pays principle as interpreted by the Court means that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also of restoring the environment degradation. Nevertheless, Dow continues to argue that the Madhya Pradesh government is responsible for the cleanup (see the Daily Environment Report, No. 144, Monday, July 28, 2003). Additionally, an estimated $200 million of Union Carbides 1989 settlement (see footnote 17) remains undistributed to the victims. Although these funds exist solely to compensate the Bhopal victims for the loss of their health, their livelihoods, and their loved ones, Dow has suggested that the balance of these funds could be used to pay for a cleanupturning the polluter pays principle entirely on its head. In summary, Dow has said both that local government should pay for the clean up AND that gas survivors should paythe first is in contravention of lawful principle and common sense, while the second contradicts all notions of human decency. See The Midland Daily News. Annual Meeting Draws Protests, Questions. Beth Medley Bellor, May 10th, 2002, available at: http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/remember-bhopal/2002-May/000347.html. Also see this summary of Dows 2002 Shareholder meeting: http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/remember-bhopal/2002-May/000344.html.

{15} In 1999 local soil and groundwater testing revealed mercury levels 20,000 to six million times higher than those expected, and other cancer, brain-damage- and birth-defect-causing chemicals at levels up to 50 times higher than EPA safety limits. (See The Bhopal Legacy, Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter, November 1999, available at: http://www.bhopal.net/documentlibrary/bhopal.pdf.) Testing published in a 2002 report revealed poisons such as 1,3,5 trichlorobenzene, dichloromethane, chloroform, lead and mercury in the breast milk of nursing women. (See Surviving Bhopal 2002: Toxic Present Toxic Future, published in January 2002 by the Fact-Finding Mission on Bhopal (FFMB). Available at: http://www.bhopal.net/documentlibrary/survivingbhopal2002.doc.)

{16} See the text of a civil action filed by Dow shareholder Martin F. Statfeld prior to the merger of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical: http://www.bhopal.net/oldsite/fulldowclass.html.

{17} See Considerations in Taxable Corporate Acquisitions, Thomas C Lacey, Jr., October 29th, 1998, p. 2. Available at: http://www.butlersnow.com/library_pdfs/1998_v1n5_pn.pdf.

{18} These liabilities remain despite a 1989 settlement between Union Carbide and the Government of India. The settlementfor $470 millionresolved civil claims arising from the disaster, but did not address the environmental damage that Union Carbides operations had left behind (see footnote 14). Nor did the settlement resolve the companys criminal liability, a product of criminal charges that have been filed against the company in the Chief Judicial Magistrates court in Bhopal. The Union Carbide Corporation, like its former CEO, Warren Anderson, has been charged with culpable homicide. If convicted, Union Carbide can be sentenced to a fine which has no upper limit. Such penalties are decided based on the magnitude of the crime (in this case, the worlds worst industrial disaster), the stature and ability of the accused party to pay (Dow is the worlds largest chemical corporation) and the current state of the victims. See The Detroit Free Press. Group Seeks Dow Liability. Alexa Capeloto, May 8, 2003.

{19} See Dows 4th Quarter, 2002, financial summary, available at: http://www.dow.com/financial/pdfs/noreg/161-00587.pdf. By way of comparison, technical guidelines drawn up by Greenpeace scientists in 2002 and handed over to Dow Chemical and the Indian government indicate that a cleanup of Bhopal would cost somewhat over $500 million. See Technical Guidelines for Cleanup at the Union Carbide India Ltd. (UICL) Site in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter, October 2002. Available at: http://www.studentsforbhopal.org/GP.TechGuidelines.pdf.

{20} The Supreme Court recently ruled (Dow Chemical Co. v. Stephenson, No. 02-271) that Vietnam veterans who believe that their recently-discovered ailments were caused by Agent Orange exposure can sue, despite a previous 1985 settlement that resolved all claims. See The Washington Post. Supreme Court Allows Agent Orange Suit. Charles Lane, June 10, 2003. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36557-2003Jun9.html?nav=hptoc_n. No compensation has ever been offered for the 650,000 Vietnamese that suffer from the aftereffects of Agent Orange exposure, nor the 500,000 that have already died as a result of their exposure. See the Asia Times. A Little Bit of Help, for Some. Katrin Dauenhauer, July 10, 2003. Available at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EG11Ak03.html.

{21} Dursban is implicated in serious health effects, including neurological damage in children. In 1995, the EPA fined Dow $732,000 for failing to disclose the adverse health effects associated with Dursban use. In early April 2003, New York State Attorney General Spitzer announced his plans to sue Dow Agrosciences for falsely advertising that Dursban is safe (see http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2003/apr/apr02a_03.html). Despite having voluntarily withdrawn Dursban's use in homes, Dow continues to market the pesticide in other countries including India.

{22} DBCP, a pesticide, was banned in the U.S. in 1978 after its use was linked to both sterilization and cancer. However Dow and other chemical manufacturers continued to produce DBCP for export to newly industrializing countries. Twenty-five thousand farm workers in Costa Rica and other countries brought suit against Dow for sterility from DBCPs use in banana crops. Dow initially tried to block the suit from being brought, but ultimately was forced to settle for $41.7 million along with Shell and Occidental Petroleum in 1997. See Global Pesticide Campaigner. DBCP Out-of-Court Settlement. Volume 8, Number 1, March 1998. Available at: http://www.igc.org/panna/resources/_pestis/PESTIS980522.6.html.

{23} In 2002, residents of Myrtle Grove Trailer Park in Plaquemine, Louisiana, sued Dow Chemical for contaminating the groundwater with vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, and withholding information about the contamination. See The Advocate. Myrtle Grove Water-Contamination Suit Developing. Emily Kern, June 30, 2003. Available at: http://www.2theadvocate.com/stories/063003/new_grove2001.shtml. See also the WBRZ archive at http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Polyvinylchloride/Dow-Vinyl-Chloride-Plaquemine14aug02.htm.

{24} Dows factories at its global headquarters in Midland have contaminated the surrounding region with high levels of dioxin, a deadly chemical byproduct. Testing by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has revealed levels of dioxin in the Tittabawassee River sediments as high as 7200 parts per trillion, well in excess of the states 90 ppt dioxin cleanup standard. See the Detroit Free Press. A Plan for Cleaning Up Dioxins Sets Off Anxiety. Dave Scroppo, December 20, 2002. Available at: http://www.freep.com/news/mich/diox20_20021220.htm. The state has warned residents to Wash hands and any other exposed body surfaces after any soil contact.Remove footwear before entering the house.Store all used gardening clothing outdoors. (MDEQ Soil Movement Advisory, Information Bulletin #3, Environmental Assessment Initiative, June 2003. See http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3308_21234-43808--,00.html.) A class-action lawsuit claiming damage to the property value of two thousand Tittabawassee floodplain homes is pending in a US court. See the Chemical and Engineering News. Dow Sued Over Dioxin in Soil. Jeff Johnson, June 9, 2003. Available at: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/topstory/8123/8123notw8.html.

{25} The implications of the Bhopal disaster touch on nearly every academic field. For advice in structuring your seminar or contextualizing it to your field, contact Ryan at [email protected]

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