Sunday, July 1, 2012

Catastrophic injustice

When several Dow representatives were among the invitation-only elites at the Rio+20 conference for greening industry last week, you got the strong whiff of rancid baloney about that conference & understood why 50,000 people held protests & a counter summit. Those who are veterans of the anti-Vietnam War movement remember that Dow Chemical was the primary peddler of Agent Orange, the defoliate that caused numerous health problems & death among veterans & their offspring & continuing, catastrophic health problems for the people of Vietnam. But what Dow just pulled off in Bhopal, India will make you weep; then your blood will boil; & hopefully this will move us all to action. Dow is a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympic games & for months activists in India have fought to have them bounced because of their refusal to offer compensation to the second generation of victims in the 1984 Bhopal toxic gas explosion (considered one of the world’s worst industrial accidents). It was caused by Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) neglecting equipment & safety maintenance. Dow has refused to contain chemical efflux from that explosion for now 26 years which has poisoned the underground water reservoirs. Over 30,000 people still live nearby due to extreme poverty & are forced to drink the contaminated water which has created new generations of children with serious neurological & physical disabilities.This 14-year-old boy named Faizan lives near the former Union Carbide (Dow) industrial complex. Not properly warned, his mother (a 1984 gas survivor) has been feeding Faizan red-colored water since his birth. The water is provided by the Bhopal municipality once a week & the family relies on it for cooking, laundry, bathing. This week, a US court absolved Union Carbide/Dow of all liability in the Bhopal disaster which means they are not liable for remediation or pollution-related claims. Those who only look to judges for social transformation are barking up the wrong tree. The only way such egregious & unspeakable injustices as the Bhopal gas explosion can be addressed is through massive solidarity in every form with the activists from Bhopal that forces those boneheads in black robes to do the right thing.  (Photo by Alex Masi)

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