health and chemical pollution

The accident in Bhopal: 20 years later

"In its timing and in the composition of the principal actors, Bhopal is a curtain raiser to the sordid drama of Globalisation.
Bhopal is a window to what lies at the end of Globalisation."

-- Satinath Sarangi, Genoa, July 2001.


Clouds of Injustice: Bhopal disaster 20 Years on
From Amnesty International: information, pdf report, links and resources.

“When Governments and Corporations do not live up to their obligations, it is only solidarity among workers, trade unions and people’s groups that can carry us forward.”

Rashida Bee, President
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Workers Association

The Bhopal aftermath – generations of women affected

"On the night of 2-3 December 1984 about 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate leaked from a pesticide factory owned by the US company Union Carbide, in Bhopal, India, exposing over half a million people to a highly toxic cloud. Satinath Sarangi reports on the health studies continuing in the aftermath of the disaster. He calls for better treatment and care for women who have suffered reproductive ill-health...

Background to the disaster Late on Sunday evening, 2 December 1984, during routine maintenance of the methyl isocyanate (MIC) tanks, a large quantity of water entered one of the 60 tonne storage tanks. None of the safety systems was operating, and this triggered off a runaway reaction resulting in a tremendous increase of temperature and pressure. Just before midnight, a deadly cocktail of MIC, hydrogen cyanide, mono methyl amine and other chemicals was carried by a northerly wind to the neighbouring communities. Over the next couple of hours close to 40 tonnes of the chemicals spread over the city of about one million people. People woke up surrounded by a poison cloud so dense and searing that they could hardly see. As they gasped for breath, the effects of the gas grew even more suffocating...

Women's problems: After the incident, no one under 18 years old was registered as a victim. Yet, at least 200,000 children are estimated to have been exposed to the gas, half of them girls. As they approach the age when they should start menstruating, some girls find that they are experiencing three or four cycles a month, others have only one period in three months. Many experience pain which more than one have strikingly described as ‘writhing like a fish out of water’. It is hard for young girls to talk about such things and their mothers do not know what to do. We are looking for ways to treat this without hormonal drugs.
A sample of testimonies taken by the Sambhavna Clinic during one day in June 1999"

Gynaecological and obstetrical survey of Bhopal women following exposure to methyl isocyanate.
Shilotri NP, Raval MY, Hinduja IN. J Postgrad Med 1986;32:203-5;year=1986;volume=32;issue=4;spage=203;epage=5;aulast=Shilotri

Bhopal: chemical danger remains today

BBC reports that "Thousands of Indians around Bhopal remain at risk of poisoning 20 years after a major disaster in the city... thousands of tonnes of toxic waste are still stored inadequately nearby, poisoning the town's water supply."
More from BBC on the anniversary

Bhopal: Dow Chemical must take responsibility for clean-up
"Twenty years on, the Bhopal plant continues to ruin the lives of the surrounding communities. The effects of the leak and the contaminated environment continue seriously to affect people's basic human rights. UCC -- and Dow who merged with UCC in 2001 -- have still not cleaned up the site or stopped pollution that started when the plant opened in the 1970s, meaning local residents are continuing to fall ill from drinking contaminated water."
Write a letter or send an e-mail, based on information from Amnesty international at:


1984: What happened in Bhopal?

"On the night of Dec. 2nd and 3rd, 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate. None of the six safety systems designed to contain such a leak were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city of Bhopal.[1] Half a million people were exposed to the gas and 20,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure. More than 120,000 people still suffer from ailments caused by the accident and the subsequent pollution at the plant site..."
Read all about the accident at:

A Short History Of Bhopal The corporate crime par excellence, from Bhopal Net: THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE IN BHOPAL

"Bhopal began as a classic instance of corporate double-standards: Union Carbide was obliged to install state-of-the-art technology in Bhopal, but instead used inferior and unproven equipment and employed different operating procedures and maintenance and safety standards to those used in its US 'sister-plant'. The motive was not simply profit, but also control: the company saved $8 million, and through this deliberate under-investment managed to retain a majority share of its Indian subsidiary.

Bhopal continued as a failure of government regulation, when Carbide were allowed to site this ultra-hazardous and inherently flawed chemical facility less than two miles from the centre of a city of 800,000 people. Bhopal progressed as a failure of official monitoring, as a succession of local inspectors passed the plant fit for production...."

..."For the last 20 years, some of the poorest people on earth, sick, living on the edge of starvation, illiterate, without funds, powerful friends or political influence, have found themselves fighting one of the world's biggest and richest corporations, backed by the government, military, and, it often seems, the judiciary of the world's most powerful nation..."

20 Things You Can Do To Help Make Dow Responsible For Bhopal

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB)

"is a coalition of people's organizations, non-profit groups and individuals who have joined forces to campaign for justice for the survivors of the Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal. Three organisations of survivors from Bhopal play a leading role in the international network. Members of ICJB continue to pressure Union Carbide's current owner The Dow Chemical Company and the US and Indian governments to ensure adequate health care, safe environment and proper rehabilitation for the survivors of the disaster and their children. Exemplary punishment of the Corporation and its guilty officials is one of the key demands of ICJB..."

Read about their goals at the link above. Organizations are welcome to sign on.

Women Activists Fetch Huge Rewards For Gas Victims

BHOPAL, May 2004: "The campaign tour undertaken by the women activists of Bhopal this year has fetched huge rewards for the struggle for justice for the thousands of gas victims.
In a press conference organised here on Tuesday, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh leaders Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla and social activist Satinath Sarangi informed about the achievements of their recent campaign tour to USA and UK.

The women leaders, who were awarded with the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize on April 19 last in San Francisco, USA, spoke about their future plan for the utilisation of the prize money of US $ 1,25,000..."

full story:

Two Indian women honoured for role in Bhopal disaster

"Two Bhopal women who have defied social norms, poverty and sickness in a quest to hold Dow Chemical Company accountable for the 1984 Union Carbide disaster that killed more than 20,000 people in India are being honoured here today as environmental champions. Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla are among seven grass roots activists from around the globe being awarded this year's Goldman Environmental Prize. Each award, referred to as the Nobel Prize for the environment, comes with 125,000 dollars that the winners are free to spend as they wish. "Getting this award is going to, once again, bring the issue of continuing disaster in Bhopal to the world's attention," Bee said during an interview in the Goldman offices. "We think this will help get more people, including trade unions and students, to join with the victims." Shukla and Bee plan to use the prize money to create a trust fund dedicated to providing medical care for children of disaster survivors and developing employment options for those driven from careers by effects of the toxins..."