Today marks the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster. On the night of December 2-3, 1984, poisonous gas from the Bhopal, India pesticide plant of Union Carbide Corp.’s (UCC) local subsidiary enveloped nearby communities. Thousands of people died by morning. Thousands more died over the ensuing weeks, months and years.
Union Carbide has never adequately compensated the victims. And, while Union Carbide has been charged with crimes in India for its role in the disaster, it is a fugitive; it fled India and has never answered the charges in the criminal case, which remain pending. After the disaster, UCC largely abandoned the site, allowing toxins to leach into the local drinking water supply. UCC has steadfastly refused to act to prevent further contamination or to compensate those whose drinking water has been poisoned. (ERI serves as co-counsel in a suit in New York against UCC seeking redress for this pollution.)
Survivors and other members of the surrounding community have been fighting for justice all of these years. On this sad anniversary, five survivors’ organizations demanded that UCC appear in the criminal case, provide adequate compensation to Gas Disaster survivors, and clean up the groundwater. One would hope UCC will finally do the right thing, but given their abysmal track record, I am not optimistic.
Today, and every day, let us remember the victims and survivors of Bhopal. Let us stand with them until justice is served.