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Bhopal Disaster Revisited [updated] 810

Posted by michael
from the when-technology-fails dept.
On December 3, 1984, a chemical plant run by Union Carbide and located in Bhopal, India released about 40 tons of a toxic gas which was an intermediate chemical used in creating pesticides. (That is, the plant was in the business of creating chemicals deadly to life.) Safety at the plant had not been a concern of management; numerous safety systems were offline or non-functional. The gas cloud drifted over the city and killed thousands of people, and inflicted permanent injury to hundreds of thousands more. It was the worst industrial accident to date. Today, the site remains a contaminated wasteland, unusable and never cleaned up. The survivors have been minimally compensated, but as time passes, enough of them have died that compensation may now be in the works. Update: 12/03 15:51 GMT by M : Whoops, just kidding, the Reuters story linked there is wrong; the BBC was apparently hoaxed into putting a Dow spokesman on TV who wasn't actually a Dow spokesman. Dow has no plans to clean up the facility and no plans to compensate the survivors. Hope this clears things up.
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Bhopal Disaster Revisited [updated]

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  • by metlin (258108) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:16AM (#10986209) Journal
    Yeah, except that the chairman of UC has been charged with culpable homicide in India, and declared a fugitive. But the US govt. has so far refused to let him be extradited for trial.
    • by MoxCamel (20484) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:26AM (#10986340)
      Mod parent up please.

      When you hear shit like "the terrorists hate our freedom," think of Bhopal. Around 3k people died on 9/11. In Bhopal, the lasting death toll is somewhere around 15,000. I wonder if Anderson would have been allowed to settle if 15,000 Americans had died.

      Mod me down if you want, I have karma to burn. But I'd sure like to see some magnetic yellow ribbons to support the victims of US multinational homicide. Mox

      • Several siblings to this post have observed that 9/11 was a terrorist act, whereas the Bhopal incident was an accident.

        This is true, but it does not absolve Union Carbide and its executives of responsibility. On 9/11, the deaths were the result of a deliberate attempt to kill. In Bhopal, the deaths were a foreseeable result of reckless neglect of safety and concern only for money. In the United States, that would be roughly the difference between first- and second-degree murder*.

        If a similar accident took place on U.S. soil, the press, the public, and the politicians would be screaming for blood. Do you think that Dow Chemical could 'accidentally' release a few tons of (say) chlorine, kill a couple thousand people, and then close the book on it with a million or two in settlements and a mea culpa?

        *Yes, yes. IANAL.

      • by tjstork (137384) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @12:50PM (#10987556) Homepage Journal
        Let's not forget that the reason Union Carbide was in there to begin with was because the Indian government created an environment where western companies could pay workers less than market wages, have lax environmental laws, and pretty much run a shoddy operation in order to get money. That business in India could have easily been located in the United States, but, instead, the Indian government allows its workers to be payed less and treated worse to get its competitive advantage. Declaring the head of Union Carbide a fugitive and playing victim is a red herring designed to cover the tracks of a completely corrupt system that is designed to elevate one caste while others are expendable. If you want to prevent Bhopals, insist that foreign governments have rules to make companies paying the same wages and same safety standards as their western counterparts.
        • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamc AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:17PM (#10994236) Journal
          You can certainly blame the Indian Govt. for their corruption, lack of regulation, for not helping the survivors enough, for essentially pocketing most of the compensation,

          BUT... blame for the tragedy is primarily on UCC.

          > That business in India could have easily been located in the United States,
          Not so "easily" when it was selling the factory's output to India itself. Take off your outsourcing goggles please!

          > If you want to prevent Bhopals, insist that foreign
          > governments have rules to make companies paying the same wages
          > and same safety standards as their western counterparts.
          Same standards, sure, by all means. As for equivalent wages, would you like to impose them on Americans workers _exporting_ to Bangladesh?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:41AM (#10986550)
      Perhaps someone else can verify the facts. What I understood was:

      The president (ceo?) of UC turned up in India immediately after the incident. He said that he was horrified and the company would do everything it could to make things better. The Indian government then arrested him. After that UC brought in the lawyers and the result is what you see today. Advice to the Indians: You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

      The reason the compensation for the victims is so pitiful is that it was done under Indian law. In Indian law, if you accidentally kill someone, the compensation is based on what they would have been worth at the end of their life. In most cases, that is pretty much zero. In American law, you get an amount that tries to reduce the consequences of the death. ie. If you are caring for your parents and are killed, the damages include an amount to replace that care. This produces much greater damages than the Indian case.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:17AM (#10986217) Homepage
    Fortunately, corporate ethics have progressed in leaps and bounds in the past twenty years. Today, the world can sleep soundly knowing that increasingly de-regulated industries have learned their lessons and would never risk innocent lives in the name of saving a buck.

    Without the monumental advances in overcoming human nature since these dark times, we wouldn't even be considering shifting regulatory responsibility from the government to the private sector. Yea, we are truly blessed to live in such an enlightened age.

    ...so next time somebody talks to you about phasing out cumbersome government regulatory systems, remember: we are no longer the savage brutes we were in 1984. The corporations of the world understand now that there are more important things than the bottom line. They would never, ever, ever sacrifice the safety of the community to further their own economic gains...

    fnord


    • Which is the exact same reason why libertaniarism would work so well. Let's do away with government and let the free market punish the guilty party, as thy punished UC into bankruptcy (NOT!).
      • Re:On Regulation (Score:4, Insightful)

        by finkployd (12902) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:41AM (#10986543) Homepage
        As a "sorta" libertarian, my view on this is that governments getting out of the way of business also means that government will not create fake legal entities called "corporations" to let people hide behind to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
        You are right, there wouldn't have been regulation and the company would not have been punished. The actual people responsible would have been and there would be no hiding behind a corporate shield to protect them from justice. It would be treated the same as a regular joe releasing toxic chemicals that killed people.

        Screw the free market punishing the guilty party, the guilty party broke the law and infringed on the personal freedoms of others (like the freedom to live). It's a criminal issue with real people in the wrong, not some faceless corporation. The faceless corporation just did that people controlling it made it do.

        Finkployd
  • by YetAnotherName (168064) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:17AM (#10986218) Homepage
    ... enough of them have died that compensation may now be in the works.

    I shudder to think that this means that there are so few remaining survivors that a pay out is financially feasible for Union Carbide.
    • I shudder to think that this means that there are so few remaining survivors that a pay out is financially feasible for Union Carbide.

      Well, it has been 20 years. I'd expect a fair number of them to have died in that period, accident or no. Remember, the affected area was a slum, full of poor people, with poor nutrition and healthcare.

      As I recall, the management and engineers of the plant were Indian citizens: while corporate policy doubtless played a part, so did they.

      Yes, it's unacceptable that Un

      • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:42AM (#10986570)
        It wasn't even like that! Union Carbide settled with the government in India for nearly $500M in the late 1980's. That money has gone virtually unused since then. Unused!

        On top of that, Union Carbide did more than it had to in providing cash directly to survivors. NPR had the story this monring of a women whose husband died. She was living in an apartment paid for life by UC and recieved $4,000 cash shortly after the disaster. For someone who in her whole life never had more than a few dollars worth of money, that's a princely sum.

        • I don't like that argument. The value of the cash to the survivors is nearly irrelevant. What matters is the value of the fine to the company involved. The fine must be large enough to convince the company to change its ways; otherwise the fine gets relegated to "the cost of doing business." Personally, I feel that Union Carbide should have been fined at least three billion dollars. If they managed to pay that, you can bet they would think twice before they let important saftey considerations slide in favor
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:18AM (#10986236)
    These pesticide thingies sound evil. Are you also against antibiotics?
  • by tagishsimon (175038) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:19AM (#10986245) Homepage
    Sadly, the Reuters story of Dow paying $12Billion is false. [smh.com.au]
  • > enough of them have died that compensation may now be in the works.

    Just wait a short while longer, and they won't have to pay anyone
  • gone bust (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jdowland (764773)
    So a corporation allows the boardmembers to escape ethical responsibility for their group actions, and when the brown stuff hits the fan the company goes bust and nobody is left responsible.

    I think governments should be responsible for the actions of companies that belong to them - which implies companies must belong to a government. After all, the government(s) will be profiting from illegal acts via taxation.
    • In socialist and communist countries where the state owns the corporation do you think this would be punished? Oh you might have the head of the company dealt with, but would people really get compensated. Not likely. How soon people forget the lessons of cold-war era Easter Block nations.
    • Re:gone bust (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nosfucious (157958)
      I think there are many reaons, Bhophal is just one, that the concept of "limited liability" has had it's day.

      Sure, be a corporation. That's good for the banks, tax and writing cheques. But, full personal legal liability if you fark up. Pleasant side effect of stopping trusts and shelter companies from hiding assets.

      Shareholders, workers and directors alike.

      Would certainly make most people think twice about signing off on shonky practices. Someone must have made a decision to turn off, or cut maintenance
  • From memory (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rhadamanthus (200665) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:21AM (#10986274)
    If I remember correctly, the facility was down due to a labor strike prior to the release. Water snuck into a methyl isocyanate (MIC) tank and caused the reaction which led to the gas leak. I think the labor strike had a lot to do with the safety systems being down.
    • Bullshit. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:26AM (#10986344) Journal
      If they didn't have enought people to run the plant they could have shut it down till the strike was over.

      Blaming the strikers is just stupid as management made the decision to keep the plant running.
    • by ewn (538392)

      and wikipedia [wikipedia.org] doesn't mention one either. And the amount of water involved was rather large, several hundred liters, so it did not just sneak in. It is unknown how and why the water got into the tank, but none of the possible reasons usually discussed (a misguided attempt to clean the tank, a wrongly connected nitrogen pipe, sabotage) makes Union Carbide look good.

      And even if there was a strike: wouldn't you expect management to make sure that your plant doesn't blow up in case of a simple labor dispute?

    • Re:From memory (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nysus (162232) on Friday December 03, 2004 @12:08PM (#10986965)
      I seem to remember something called the "Internet" and I did something called a "Google" search and it turned up a "web page" that returned a bunch of "urls". This was one of them: http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu21le/uu21l e0c.htm

      Read on, it's pretty cool what you can do nowadays with a computer:

      Legal battles and the "sabotage" defence

      For Union Carbide, the legal battle with the Government of India was a major long-term effect of the Bhopal disaster. The company's legal defence was built around the claim that it was not liable for damages from the accident, because they were the result of "sabotage" by a disgruntled worker. UCC claimed it knew the saboteur's identity, and the firm of Arthur D. Little, Inc. was hired to verify and publicize this viewpoint (Kalelkar 1988). The company also circulated videos about the sabotage claim to the media and other interested observers.

      How was sabotage supposed to have occurred? It was alleged that water could not have entered the MIC tanks during pipe-washing operations: pipes leading to the tanks were simply too long; passages were too complex and blocked with closed valves. These factors would have presented an insuperable physical barrier to water. The only way that so much water could get into the MIC storage tanks was through deliberate action by an individual. According to UCC, a disgruntled worker wanted to spoil the MIC in tank 610. The main evidence was a hose connected to a water main beside an open inlet pipe leading to the tank.

      The UCC sabotage theory did not explain how several other simultaneous failures contributed to the accident. In addition to water entry, there were failures in four safety devices - the vent gas scrubber, the flare tower, the refrigeration system, and the water spray. There were failures in design, operating procedures, and staffing, as described earlier. The positive-pressure systems in the MIC tanks had failed, four to eight weeks before the accident.

      Union Carbide's information about the sabotage came from interviews with unnamed witnesses conducted several years after the accident, in unreliable conditions. The interviews were held neither under oath nor in the presence of legal authorities or any independent (not paid by Union Carbide) observers. UCC did not reveal the name of the saboteur so that legal action could be initiated.

      The sabotage claim did not explain why a disgruntled worker would want to destroy a batch of MIC. Far greater financial damage could have been inflicted on the company by smashing expensive equipment or pouring water on finished goods. Without convincing evidence, the sabotage claim remains just that - a claim.

      The deliberate introduction of water into MIC storage tanks might have taken place without any intention to commit sabotage. A small quantity of water from pipe washing could have initiated the accident. Operators on duty might have been alarmed by the sight of a rumbling hot tank and could have introduced water to cool it. Such a scenario was hinted at by some witnesses and it accommodates most of the claims raised in the sabotage defence.
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:23AM (#10986291)
    "After a legal agreement the firm provided victims with compensation averaging $500 (£300)."

    So that's what a life is worth to a multinational corporation?
  • by Greg@RageNet (39860) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:23AM (#10986295) Homepage
    I can't believe we haven't realized that capitalism is bad, and all corporations are evil. Why can't we just have government, our savior, do everything for us. These sorts of disasters would never happen then.. Thinking of how caring and thoughtful communist governments are towards their people makes me glow green with envy... or is that just the residual radiation from the reactors at chernobyl...

    -- Greg
    • by fuzzybunny (112938) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:34AM (#10986465) Homepage Journal
      Aaaand in this corner, the idiots come out of the woodwork.

      When you, through negligence, ignorance, or malice, are responsible for something so heinous as to cause massive death and suffering to a large number of people, refuse to stand up for your actions, and have a government immorally protecting you from just punishment, you are shit. Walking excrement.

      It has nothing to do with hating progress, capitalism, democracy, freedom, America, and my god won't somebody finally think of the children? Nobody is suggesting gas bombing the homes of animal researchers, or not funding stem cell research because it kills innocent gobs of discarded embryos. Nor is anyone advocating communism, or returning back to the fucking trees.

      The actions, or failure to take them, of a company killed a large number of people and crippled others, in addition to causing a serious environmental disaster. Those in that company required both ethically and, in many countries, legally to take responsibility for such an action have not only been too spineless to face the consequences of their faulty leadership, but have even refused to compensate those whose lives their actions destroyed.

      What would you think if Dow sent a cloud of dioxin gas over Hoboken? If IG Farben contributed directly to the deaths of a few thousand measly Jews? There's a reason for government relations to PREVENT this sort of thing, not circumscribe your precious freedoms to drop hunks of plutonium in neighborhod rivers, god forbid.

      Ever heard of the phrase "the buck stops here"? Look it up. Your malformed opinions piss me off.
  • Food for thought (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fruity_pebbles (568822) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:24AM (#10986309)
    The Bhopal plant was jointly owned by Union Carbide and the Indian government, with the government owning 51%. The plant was run by Indian workers. Most of the deaths occurred not in the town of Bhopal, but in the shanty town that went up next to the plant after the plant was built.
    • Re:Food for thought (Score:3, Interesting)

      by XxtraLarGe (551297)
      Something I heard about this (sorry, I don't have a source) was that there could have been electronic/mechanical safegards in place, but because of Indian labor laws they weren't allowed. They didn't want computers/machines doing the jobs that humans could do.
    • by Greg@RageNet (39860) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:32AM (#10986442) Homepage
      We won't let your so-called 'facts' get in the way of our rampant corp-bashing here at slashdot.

    • DEAD WRONG! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:50AM (#10986666)
      The Bhopal plant was jointly owned by Union Carbide and the Indian government, with the government owning 51%.

      Straight from the horse's mouth: http://www.bhopal.com/facts.htm

      FACT: The Bhopal plant was built, owned and operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL). Union Carbide held 51 percent of the shares in UCIL, the Indian government owned 26 percent, and some 24,000 private Indian citizens owned the balance.

      FACT: Union Carbide never actually operated in India. Rather, Union Carbide India Ltd. (UCIL), a separate company 50.9% owned by Union Carbide, was controlling the operation of the Bhopal factory at the time of the tragedy. Following the tragedy, the Government of India ceased production at the plant and took complete control of the property.

      Bhopal.com is run by Union Carbide so you can't question this source.
  • I don't want to degrade the tragedy that these people have gone through.

    However, this incident highlights that in America and the rest of the world where labor is given the respect and government protection that it deserves, companies that want to do business simply can't compete. How can any company who locates itself in a country with labor protections compete against companies that can simply *kill* their workforce by locating themselves in countries who turn a blind eye to such behavior.

    The USA, and
    • Why do we have labor laws when we allow and even *encourage* businesses to locate in places without them?

      I know this was probably a rhetorical question, but the answer is that special interests (read: people or companies with lots and lots of money) control our government from the local to the federal. We allow this by allowing campaign (and other) contributions. If we make it so there are less and less ways corporate interests can manipulate government, we will see more and more moral activity on the

    • At the time of the Bopal incident there was no significant regulations that would have prevented the same accident from happening in the US. In fact because of Bopal, the US Congress mandated that OSHA create a program to ensure such an incident never happens here. The result was OSHA's Process Safety Management [osha.gov] standard. The standard was published in the federal register as 29 CFR 1910.119 on 24 February 1992.
  • For those who won't RTFAs, from the last BBC slide [bbc.co.uk], (at the risk of being modded redundant):

    Up to 500,000 survivors still suffer symptoms such as paralysis, partial blindness and impaired immune systems.

    Union Carbide accepted "moral responsibility" for the disaster. It later blamed sabotage by a disgruntled worker.

    After a legal agreement the firm provided victims with compensation averaging $500 (£300).

  • Sabatoge (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zburns (825795)
    This story comes up every year. Sure, this was a tragedy, but several independent studies and investigations have been done to show that this was sabatoge. The introduction of water into the storage tank could have only been done by somebody with intimate knowledge of the procedures.
    • Re:Sabatoge (Score:3, Informative)

      by actiondan (445169)
      several independent studies and investigations have been done to show that this was sabatoge.

      Care to reference them? I haven't seen any such independent studies.

      A BBC documentary [bbc.co.uk] (53 minutes in to the RM stream on the right)
      says that an internal safety report on the Union Carbide MIC plant in the USA warned about the risk of a runaway reaction in MIC storage tanks just a few months before the Bhopal leak.

      According to the BBC, the report was never sent to the Bhopal managers.
  • Hopefully their government will start to push for standards from companies that come and park in their counrty. I hope mexico sees this also as we are using them as whores for producing materials.

    All we can do is hope that they take this tragedy and move towards standards of business and living that will move them towards a better life style.
  • or does anyone else find it strange that Union Carbide owns "bhopal.com" domain: link [bhopal.com].

    Question for you: how does the number killed in Bhopal compare with the number killed in 9/11 ?

  • The leak was the result of sabotage [bhopal.com].
  • factually wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minus_273 (174041) <aaaaa AT SPAM DOT yahoo DOT com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:27AM (#10986361) Journal
    here is a link [msn.com] with a recent article the disaster is believed to be the result of sabotage. Also, union carbide claned up most of the site and it is now in the hands of the Indian gov. In addition they paid hundreds of millions in compensation but almost all of it was lost in the government and the victims got nothing. There are far to many sides to blame. To call the story above wrong would be a gross understatement.
  • by scottennis (225462) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:28AM (#10986373) Homepage
    There are two things you need to remember about corporations:
    1. They exist because they are legally entitled to exist.
    2. They exist to make money.
    Therefore, they will do nothing unless they are legally compelled to do it, or unless it will make them money, either now or in the future.
    See this movie. [thecorporation.tv]
  • by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:30AM (#10986400) Journal
    which was an intermediate chemical used in creating pesticides. (That is, the plant was in the business of creating chemicals deadly to life.)

    Wow. Thanks for that obscure factoid, Sparky. Pesticides kill things. Huh. Who knew?

    I'm sure there's a clever comment to be had here about floods and dihydrogen monoxide here, but I'm far too weary.

  • This is not a story when technology failed..

    This is a story of corruption, of not having any fail safe mechanisms or adequate safety measures, of negligence, of politicians willingly selling their souls and of those who they represent and of a system which failed to protect its own.

    A thousand fingers could be pointed and in this horrible disaster, anywhere you point, you can find guilty who are still sheltered by the law, by the money they have willingly spent for their own defense and none for the people who suffered.

    Union Carbide / Warren Anderson and Dow Chemical - Till now, they have chosen not to accept any form of responsibility and instead suggest sabotage. Union Carbide had spent a paltry sum before they agreed to pay 470 million of which hardly one third has been paid to its victims for the lack of any judicial oversight and sadly, corruption at the heart of the system. Even the 470 million that hopefully will be disbursed one day, hardly 2000 dollars will go to the families of those who died and 500$ to those who lost everything but their lives. Hardly a sum for the cost of a human life...

    Union Carbide's response [bhopal.com] cleverly attempts to distance itself from the tragedy by calling the Bhopal plant owned by an indian firm. Clever, but it also serves to belittle the scope of this disaster and the lives that were snuffed out.

    Would this be the same outcome if this had happened elsewhere, or in the developed world? And wouldnt a proper clean up in order or long completed if this were anywhere else.

    Warren Anderson never saw the inside of a prison and still lives quite contently in Florida or NY and the US judicial system has done its part by denying the extradition requests by India. The Indian system on the other hand has comfortably chosen to neglect the cries for justice and has happily moved on..

    Rediff.com [rediff.com] has a sombre look at the tragedy, its victims, those who were forgotten, and those who still suffer.

    One more reason not to trust corporations..

    Also no additional compensation is planned and Dow has not apologized or owned up to this tragedy as the last part of the slashdot post. It is a hoax and was unknowingly perpetrated by a BBC interview. Read the AP article first (it drips accountability which is the last thing Dow or any corporation would do)and the proof its a hoax [rediff.com]
  • "That is, the plant was in the business of creating chemicals deadly to life.", so was this the disaster at the disinfectant or antibiotic plant?

  • I was listening to NPR yesterday when one of the guests suggested that chemical plants would be a likely soft target for terrorists and could result in an disaster like Bhopal. He claimed that security at these plants is very lax compared to, say, a nuclear plant, making them a soft target. Given the severity of the Bhopal incident, this seems to suggest this is a very serious concern, and it is something else to take into account when thinking about chemical plant safety. It's not all just about acciden

  • by zz99 (742545) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:33AM (#10986455)
    "BBC World said yesterday it was duped in an "elaborate deception" by a man who claimed to be a Dow Chemical Co spokesman and said the US company accepted responsibility for India's Bhopal disaster."

    The story [smh.com.au]
  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:35AM (#10986468)
    - What's the difference between doctors and chemical engineers?

    - Doctors kill in ones.

  • I just want to put the following quote: The survivors have been minimally compensated, but as time passes, enough of them have died that compensation may now be in the works. in the context of the Indian Legal system.

    The Indian Legal system is notorious for the lack of speed with which the wheels of justice turn. Even for the smallest cases ten years from filing to final disposition is not unusual.

    I recently read an article which discussed several cases from the 1950s that is still in the courts and still being fought.

    Yours,

    Jordan Dea-Mattson
  • The CBC [www.cbc.ca] has been doing a good job recently reminding people about the magnitude of this disaster. I just can't image things on the order of 30,000 lives -- other than war -- and apparently the effects continue even today.

    This just reminds me of a sad truth: large companies operating in the third world see the people there are disposable. A settlement of $300 million for something of this scale is just sick (way way too small).
  • Today's one of those days when you can really see the difference between what the rest of the world is talking about and what the US media is covering by looking at google news and comparing it to the US sites. No mention of this historic anniversary anywhere in the US media, but pretty clear it's weighing on the minds of people everywhere else.

    But, you know, if Julia Roberts has twins...
  • by minus_273 (174041) <aaaaa AT SPAM DOT yahoo DOT com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:38AM (#10986509) Journal
    everytime i hear DOW mentioned in this discussion it reminds me of how people can talk about something with almost no facts and jump to conclusions. The disaster was in 1984 at a union carbide plant. In 2001 DOW bough union carbide. Now, how is DOW to blame here?
  • by general_re (8883) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:41AM (#10986551) Homepage
    ...compensation may now be in the works.

    ...let me point out that compensation was already in the works. Union Carbide paid India $480 million back in 1989 - we can certainly argue about the amount and whether it's enough, but the money was paid. The real problem there is that the Indian government kept most of the money [bhopal.net], and didn't distribute it to or use it on behalf of the survivors. Frankly, I don't see much point in paying out any more, so long as the government of India is going to act as a sinkhole and suck down any more money that gets transferred. Sorry, but maybe this time it should be held in trust for the survivors by someone other than Indian bureaucrats.

  • by PyEater (139957) on Friday December 03, 2004 @11:58AM (#10986796)
    "BHOPAL: THE SEARCH FOR JUSTICE

    Dec 4th - San Francisco
    Dec 5th - Stanford, 1:30 pm, Bechtel Intl Center

    Screening and Discussion
    with NADEEM UDDIN , Director

    On December 3, 1984, the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India leaked poisonous methyl isocyanate gas killing fifteen thousand helpless men, women and children. Hundreds of thousands more were permanently maimed. Bhopal was, and remains, the world's worst chemical industry disaster" http://ektaonline.org/events/bhopal/index.htm [ektaonline.org]
  • by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377&gmail,com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @12:54PM (#10987613) Homepage
    Survivors not compenstated: wrong. There was a settlement, but the *Indian* court system has had it tied up for years. IIRC the settlement was in the 400 million dollar range, and it did a good job of bankrupting UC.

    Dow Chemical is somehow responsable: Wrong. Dow chemical bought what was left of Union carbide in the late 80's / early 90's, long after the disaster settlements had been made. Holding Dow responsable for Bhopal would be like an AMX owner suing DiamlerChrysler 20 years after getting a settlement out of AMX.

    Union Carbide ran an evil nasty horrible pit of dispair of a factory. Right. Sorta. The plant fell in line with many Indian safety standards, which at the time were no where near what our standards are. Of course inspections and safety take a back seat to giving people a job in developing countries. This is nothing new.

    Bhopal was a horrifying disaster, but the impression I'm getting is that India is becoming a truly western society. The scummy lawyers are shooting out of the woodwork to go after the deepest pockets. UC's former chairman stil works for Dow, but once the courts on both sides get their heads out of their asses, he'll end up facing charges in India, it's just a matter of time
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:26PM (#10988085)
    Damn Collapses in Henan Provinces in China in 1973 killed 85,000.

    That wasn't due to an evil corporation though so it doesn't count.

    Article [sjsu.edu]

    Over 85 thousand died as a result of the dam failures. There was little or no time for warnings. The wall of water was traveling at about 50 kilometers per hour or about 14 meters per second. The authorities were hampered by the fact that telephone communication was knocked out almost immediately and that they did not expect any of the "iron dams" to fail.
    As far as wastelands go, how about the area surrounding the 70 tons of superheated nuclear waste that blew up in 1957 in rural russia.

    Article [mindfully.org]

    KARABOLKA, Russia - One of the world's ghastliest nuclear accidents happened just upwind of here, in a nameless atomic city that never appeared on a map, when an explosion of radioactive sludge produced a toxic plume that contaminated a quarter of a million people.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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