Greenpeace returned poisonous waste collected from the site of the Bhopal gas tragedy, to its rightful owner, Dow Chemical. The waste — abandoned in Bhopal — has been poisoning people there since 1984.
Activists from Greenpeace and Rashida Bi, leader of Bhopal Gas Women’s Union — both constituents of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal — unloaded 250 kg of the waste, safely contained in 10 barrels, from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and delivered it to Dow’s largest European operation, Dow Benelux, in the Netherlands on Monday.
While the activists occupied the building, they hung eight huge photographs depicting Dow’s corporate crime in Bhopal and some of its victims.
‘‘We’ll carry on confronting Dow with this corporate crime until it cleans up its toxic fallout in Bhopal and stops poisoning us. We’re already struggling to survive sickness from gas exposure without adequate help from the company responsible, and are facing a slow death from exposure to these poisons. How can a corporation get away with this?’’ asked Rashida Bi who travelled to the Netherlands to return the waste.
The poisonous waste returned on Monday is only a fraction of hundreds of tonnes strewn around the derelict pesticide plant in Bhopal since 1984 when Union Carbide — now owned by Dow — fled the city after a gas leak at the plant killed 8,000 people and injured half a million. No one has accepted responsibility for the waste and the chemical company still refuses to clean up the site.
For 18 years, chemicals have leaked into the soil and ground water in and around the factory site and have been poisoning people who survived the gas leak. Today, the death toll stands at 20,000 and is rising every day.
A new report released by Greenpeace presents further evidence of severe contamination from chemical waste dumped at the plant. Their scientists have identified numerous poisons in the waste, including Sevin, the pesticide Union Carbide used to manufacture in Bhopal.