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December 7, 2004

Chemical Reaction


The exciting news last week was the stunning announcement that Dow Chemical was finally taking full responsibility for it’s role in the Bhopal chemical disaster. A spokesman for the company made the declaration in an interview on BBC news, issuing a formal apology to the victims and declaring that the company had decided to compensate victims for the entire $12 billion of estimated damages. “The 120,000 people that are estimated to need medical care because of the Bhopal catastrophe are going to need it for their whole lives,” the spokesman said. “They’ve already needed it for 20 years.”

The unfortunate news? The statement was a hoax perpetrated by the performance activists and corporate provacateurs, the Yes Men — and none of it was true.

The Bhopal factory (formerly owned by Union Carbide, now a subsidiary of Dow) paid $407 million to Bhopal residents in 1989. Besides disavowing the statement, the company reemphasized it position that it bears no legal culpability and owes nothing to anyone.

You may take issue with the tactic, but these guys have been advocating for Bhopal victims for years, and have made a real contribution toward keeping the story in the news, and maintaining pressure on those who would avoid responsibility.

You can view the BBC interview, and the Yes Men’s account and explanation here.

(image: BBC)

  • Annoying Old Guy

    The presence of the plant and its ability to operate in violation of safety procedures was a direct result of the industrial policy of the Indian government. That is a very progressive kind of thing, government guidance of the economy and all that. Of course, it’s also very progressive to give governments a complete moral pass on any bad effects of their policies, because it’s not really about the morality, it’s about the money.

    I’m sure I’ll get the “oh, you’re just excusing Union Carbide”. No, I’m not. But how can it be just to blame just one of the partners in a crime?

    Moreover, the root cause wasn’t Union Carbide but government policy. This is an archetypical example of the inescapable conflict of interest that arises when the government involves itself directly in the operation of corporations and the economy. Why shouldn’t governments take such risks at the expense of the populace if their progressive friends will cover for them when things go wrong?

  • Annoyed Young Guy

    That is the weirdest, most twisted logic I have ever seen. Please reexamine your message and re-post.

  • Just Some Liberal Cynic

    AYG: LOL! “weird”, “twisted”. I love it! Ironic that he wants to put the Indian government squarely in the crosshairs here but I think if you prowl his past posts you’ll find AOG is generally unwilling to find fault with the current American administration for *anything* in their Iraqi adventure. JSLC

  • Annoying Old Guy

    Your post has no content. Please read the link provided and re-post


    Once again you prove my point by being happy to accept invective over facts and argument.

    It’s not that I don’t find fault but that no one here provides valid critiques, only hyperbole such as “Fallujah was destroyed”. I provided counter examples which were, as usual, ignored. You seem to have a lot of difficulty in accepting any result that is not perfection or utter failure. I have argued against the utter failure claims, which you and others seem to view as an argument for perfection. Those are not, however, the same thing.

  • Just Some Liberal Cynic

    AOG: We’re truly blessed to have someone tuning in with the intellect, insight and total knowledge to judge so surely that all bagnewsnoters’ points of view are invalid…as well as having the Solomon-like wisdom which allows you to divine others’ personal opinions, many times dearly held, as mere hyperbole…and the humility to say so. I’m in awe of such power. Tell me again…how many miles have you walked in all our mocassins? I forget…but them I’m an inferior being with a, how did you put it, “incomplete world view.” Oh, and as to being ignored, if you’ll review, you’ll find people respond better to you when you come down off that 2 story tall soapbox and interact as if we were less than microbial specs on your windshield. JSLC

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