Bhopal liability

Dow's claim that it has no liability for the 1984 Bhopal disaster (your report, 22 June) does not stand up to scrutiny. At the time of the disaster, US-based Union Carbide Limited (UCL) operated the plant through its Indian subsidiary, a typical arrangement at the time.

UCL made the decision to develop the factory to handle methyl isocyanate (MIC), the gas which leaked and killed thousands. UCL sent inspectors from the US to "oversee" health and safety standards. UCL cut expenditure on maintenance and technology which led to the disaster.

After the disaster, UCL tried to avoid liability by getting rid of its assets in India (including its s ubsidiary company) and secretly negotiating a settlement with the Indian government without the participation of the bereaved and the survivors. That does not absolve it of liability, and when Dow bought UCL in 2001 it acquired these liabilities as well as its assets.

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The survivors have been campaigning for 25 years for justice. I have had the privilege of meeting many of them and hearing their remarkable stories while carrying out research with the survivors' groups. They know who is responsible: Dow and Warren Anderson must be brought to justice.


Queen Margaret University


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