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Response: Union Carbide and Dow Chemical

Union Carbide and Dow Chemical provided statements in response to research conducted for the BBC programme, One Night in Bhopal.

Full Union Carbide statement:

In addition, the Union Carbide website carries a full statement about the Bhopal tragedy, its response as well as historical and legal information.

Union Carbide and Dow Chemical

In 1999, Dow Chemical agreed to buy Union Carbide for $11.6bn.

The deal went ahead in 2001 making Dow Chemical one of the largest chemical companies in the world.

Union Carbide is now a wholly owned subsiduary of Dow Chemical.


Dow Chemical's full response

1. Will Dow Chemical co-operate in any future court proceedings in the USA or India?

First, it is important to remember that Dow never owned or operated the Bhopal facility, and the company has neither a connection to nor legal liability for the tragic events of the 1984 gas release.

Dow did not acquire the shares of Union Carbide until 16 years after the tragedy, 10 years after Union Carbide's legal settlement was affirmed by the Indian Supreme Court, and two years after the state government of Madhya Pradesh took control of the site.

In terms of specific legal proceedings, for example, Dow India recently was asked to appear in court to explain why it could not force Dow to force Union Carbide to take action regarding the Bhopal incident.

Dow India did appear and explained that it has no authority to order Union Carbide (a separate corporation) to take such action. The court seemed to understand this position and we are awaiting a ruling.

2. Does Dow Chemical have any plans for further assistance to the people of Bhopal? Financially or in kind?

Again, it is important to remember that Dow never owned or operated the Bhopal plant and has no responsibility for the tragedy. However, we - along with the rest of industry - have learned from this tragic event and have tried to do all we can to ensure that similar incidents never happen again.

We do have philanthropic initiatives in India, just as we do elsewhere around the world in communities where we live and work. These initiatives are not specific to Bhopal as we do not own or operate a facility there.

3. What has Dow Chemical done to adapt its policy for operating subsidiaries overseas in light of the disaster in Bhopal?

While Dow has no responsibility for Bhopal, we have never forgotten the tragic event and have helped to drive global industry performance improvements.

This is why Responsible Care was created and why these standards are essential for the protection of our employees and the communities where we live and work. Our pledge and our commitment is the full implementation of Responsible Care everywhere we do business around the world.

4. Would Dow co-operate with the development of international standards for multinational corporations operating overseas, such as those discussed at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002?

Dow already is embracing such standards through the principles of the Responsible Care program in the US and throughout the world.

Dow is fully committed to the global implementation of Responsible Care and we continue to advocate this to the whole chemical industry to implement globally as well. Responsible Care is the acceptable standard for the chemical industry.


Union Carbide's full response

Union Carbide's response to research conducted for the BBC programme, One Night in Bhopal.

1. Does Union Carbide believe the compensation paid to the people of Bhopal is adequate to cover the economic, health and psychological damages they have suffered as a result of the gas leak?

Immediately following the gas release, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) began providing aid to the victims and established a process to resolve their claims. Among the many efforts Union Carbide took to address the situation after the disaster were:

• Establishing the Employees' Bhopal Relief Fund for victims that provided more than $5 million in immediate relief funds.

• Organising a team of top medical experts to help identify the best treatment options and work with the local medical community.

• Providing substantial amounts of medical equipment, supplies and expertise to the victims.

• Establishing a $100 million charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims.

• Conducting clean-up work at the site to prevent any further damage.

• Offering a $2.2 million grant to establish a vocational-technical centre in Bhopal to provide local jobs.

In 1989, Union Carbide and Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) entered into a $470 million legal settlement with the Indian Government, settling all claims arising from the incident.

The settlement was affirmed by the Indian Supreme Court, which described it as "just, equitable and reasonable." The money was promptly paid to the Government of India by Union Carbide and UCIL.

After the incident, UCIL began clean-up work at the site under the direction of Indian national and state government authorities.

After the sale of UCIL stock in 1994, the renamed company, Eveready Industries India Limited, continued clean-up work at the site until 1998. The government of the State of Madhya Pradesh took over the facility in 1998 and assumed all responsibility for completing any further remediation.

Since that time, media reports indicate no further clean-up work has taken place.

2. Should Union Carbide Corporation participate in any future court proceedings?

In 1989, Union Carbide and Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) entered into a $470 million legal settlement with the Indian Government, settling all claims arising from the incident.

The settlement was affirmed by the Indian Supreme Court, which described it as "just, equitable and reasonable." The money was promptly paid to the Government of India by Union Carbide and UCIL. No further legal claims are outstanding against Union Carbide.

3. Does Union Carbide Corporation have any responsibility for the ongoing contamination of the Union Carbide site in Bhopal?

After the incident, UCIL began clean-up work at the site under the direction of Indian national and state government authorities. After the sale of UCIL stock in 1994, the renamed company, Eveready Industries India Limited, continued clean-up work at the site until 1998.

The government of the State of Madhya Pradesh took over the facility in 1998 and assumed all responsibility for completing any further remediation. Since that time, media reports indicate no further clean-up work has taken place.

4. Does Union Carbide stand by the sabotage theory it proposed in 1985 as the reason for the MIC leak?

Yes. Investigations suggest that only an employee with the appropriate skills and knowledge of the site could have tampered with the tank. An independent investigation by the engineering consulting firm Arthur D. Little determined that the water could only have been introduced into the tank deliberately, since process safety systems were in place and operational that would have prevented water from entering the tank by accident.

5. What lessons have been learned from the Bhopal disaster?

Union Carbide and the chemical industry as a whole learned many valuable lessons from this tragedy. Some of these include:

• Having contingency plans available for dealing with emergencies.

• Improving health, safety and environmental management programs.

• Involving the public in risk management and acceptance.

• Reducing inventories of hazardous chemicals at the site.

• Substituting a less hazardous chemical in manufacturing operations or using a different manufacturing process that calls for using a less hazardous chemical.

• Locating plants that use hazardous materials in remote areas and establishing "green belts" (open, unpopulated) land around them.

• Developing methods to assess and then lessen the effects of any release or accident that might affect surrounding areas.

• Evaluating measures to reduce the seriousness of an accident.

• Maintaining the integrity of safety systems.

• Establishing Threat of Violence (TOV) programs.

6. In order to assist future scientific research, will Union Carbide Corporation reveal the details of the full composition of the gases and contaminants released from Tank E610 on the night of the Bhopal gas leak?

This already has been done. On the day of the tragedy, Union Carbide dispatched a team of technical MIC experts, who carried studies on MIC.

Soon after landing in Bhopal, they shared those studies with medical and scientific personnel there. All published and unpublished studies available at that time on MIC toxicity were provided.

UCC provided substantial expertise on how to treat the victims and how to ascertain and treat any long-term effects of exposure.



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