Seventeen years ago on the night of December 2nd, a poisonous gas leaked from a US pesticide factory in Bhopal, India. Overnight, several thousand people died painful deaths. And the toxic legacy still haunts Bhopal: the death toll due to exposure to the gas continued to climb and today, more than 20,000 people have died due to exposure. And at least 150,000 people suffer permanent health effects.
The company who owned the factory, Union Carbide, was never held fully accountable. Union Carbide’s CEO, Warren Anderson, jumped bail in India and has never stood trial for the outstanding charges against him, which are equivalent to manslaughter. The prosecutor wants to downgrade the charges to “harm by negligence.” Several years ago, Union Carbide merged with Dow Chemical and took their name. But survivors and activists say Dow Chemical is still responsible for the cleanup of the disaster. They say that Anderson should stand trial, and that the money should go to the survivors.
Bhopal survivors and activists have been on hunger strike for 18 days. Two of the activists were hospitalized yesterday. We are joined by a third hunger striker, speaking to us from the streets of Delhi. Just this morning he and the two survivors of the Bhopal disaster broke their fast after 18 days.
- Sathyu Sarangi, Bhopal hunger striker and head of the Sambhavna Trust, a charity for survivors of the Bhopal disaster.