Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bhopal Disaster Revisited

This photo isn't pleasant. I believe it was taken after the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India in the early 80s. Through the social networking website of facebook, I was invited to join a cause called Students for Bhopal. For those of you who don't remember the disaster (or weren't alive), here's the student group's synopsis of the event;

On December 3rd, 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India, were gassed to death after a catastrophic chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant. More than 150,000 people were left severely disabled - of whom 22,000 have since died of their injuries - in a disaster now widely acknowledged as the world’s worst-ever industrial disaster.

More than 27 tons of methyl isocyanate and other deadly gases turned Bhopal into a gas chamber. None of the six safety systems at the plant were functional, and Union Carbide’s own documents prove the company designed the plant with “unproven” and “untested” technology, and cut corners on safety and maintenance in order to save money.

Today, twenty years after the Bhopal disaster, at least 50,000 people are too sick to work for a living, and a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed that the children of gas-affected parents are themselves afflicted by Carbide’s poison.

Carbide is still killing in Bhopal. The chemicals that Carbide abandoned in and around their Bhopal factory have contaminated the drinking water of 20,000 people. Testing published in a 2002 report revealed poisons such as 1,3,5 trichlorobenzene, dichloromethane, chloroform, lead and mercury in the breast milk of nursing women living near the factory.

I recently received this email from the group on facebook citing a major victory.

The Government of India has announced that it will take legal action on the civil and criminal liabilities of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical for the ongoing disaster in Bhopal, India. This landmark announcement comes after over 5 months of campaigning by Bhopal survivors and their international supporters, which included a 500-mile march and a 130 day sit-in on the streets of Delhi by survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster.

Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Ram Vilas Paswan announced that the government will vigorously pursue Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, when he visited the Bhopal sit-in camp today. Dow Chemical has not presented Union Carbide in Indian criminal court, and has been fighting to avoid cleaning up the toxic site left by Carbide in Bhopal that has poisoned the drinking water for 25,000 people in Bhopal.

Paswan also announced the establishment of an empowered Commission on Bhopal. The Commission will address the health and welfare needs of the Bhopal survivors as well as environmental, social, economic and medical rehabilitation. The Commission will be empowered to allocate resources to different rehabilitation schemes or research projects, issue tenders, identify implementing Central or State Government agencies, and change the agencies if their work is unsatisfactory.

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I know this is a lengthy entry, and i appreciate you taking the time to read it. I posted this for two reasons.

1) It's exciting to see change taking place even if it is taking over 20 years. Change doesn't come easy, and it takes the efforts of many standing up and contributing.

2) This change is taking place because of efforts of everyday people like you and me. You see, contrary to what you might believe or lies you may have been told, by the choices you make in this life, YOU can make a difference in the lives of people you may never meet.

All that to say, let's dream big about how God might want to use each one of us to change the world!!!

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Eeeek. You're killing me with the picture. :(