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Dow Chemical's lack of responsibility in Bhopal the Press Release issued by the company

by Farris Wahbeh Saturday, Dec. 07, 2002 at 11:20 PM

Dow Chemical's excuse for not being able to acknowledge their reprehensive actions in Bhopal. In short, the company fears creating precedence for other major companies and their refusal to jeopardize their stockholders.

I somehow mysteriously received via e-mail a press release issued by Dow Chemical regarding Bhopal. In the release, the corporation refuses to acknowledge their responsibility because it would cost their shareholders "billions of dollars". And, furtermore, cost the company millions of dollars for "clean-up and compensation". What's more, Dow dosen't want to set a precedent in regards to their responsibility in Bhopal in fear that other industry giants, (BP, Shell,, might come under fire. I have copied the text here from Dow's email as I received it

December 3, 2002




Company responds to activist concerns with concrete action points

In response to growing public outrage over its handling of the Bhopal

disaster's legacy, Dow Chemical ( has

issued a statement explaining why it is unable to more actively

address the problem.

"We are being portrayed as a heartless giant which doesn't care about

the 20,000 lives lost due to Bhopal over the years," said Dow

President and CEO Michael D. Parker. "But this just isn't true. Many

individuals within Dow feel tremendous sorrow about the Bhopal

disaster, and many individuals within Dow would like the corporation

to admit its responsibility, so that the public can then decide on the

best course of action, as is appropriate in any democracy.

"Unfortunately, we have responsibilities to our shareholders and our

industry colleagues that make action on Bhopal impossible. And being

clear about this has been a very big step."

On December 3, 1984, Union Carbide--now part of Dow--accidentally

killed 5,000 residents of Bhopal, India, when its pesticide plant

sprung a leak. It abandoned the plant without cleaning it up, and

since then, an estimated 15,000 more people have died from

complications, most resulting from chemicals released into the


Although legal investigations have consistently pinpointed Union

Carbide as culprit, both Union Carbide and Dow have had to publicly

deny these findings. After the accident, Union Carbide compensated

victims' families between US0 and US0 per victim.

"We understand the anger and hurt," said Dow Spokesperson Bob Questra.

"But Dow does not and cannot acknowledge responsibility. If we did,

not only would we be required to expend many billions of dollars on

cleanup and compensation--much worse, the public could then point to

Dow as a precedent in other big cases. 'They took responsibility; why

can't you?' Amoco, BP, Shell, and Exxon all have ongoing problems that

would just get much worse. We are unable to set this precedent for

ourselves and the industry, much as we would like to see the issue

resolved in a humane and satisfying way."

Shareholders reacted to the Dow statement with enthusiasm. "I'm happy

that Dow is being clear about its aims," said Panaline Boneril, who

owns 10,000 shares, "because Bhopal is a recurrent problem that's

clogging our value chain and ultimately keeping the share price from

expressing its full potential. Although a real solution is not

immediately possible because of Dow's commitments to the larger

industry issues, there is new hope in management's exceptional new

clarity on the matter."

"It's a slow process," said Questra. "We must learn bit by bit to meet

this challenge head-on. For now, this means acknowledging that much as

it pains us, our prime responsibilities are to the people who own Dow

shares, and to the industry as a whole. We simply cannot do anything

at this moment for the people of Bhopal."

Dow Chemical is a chemical products and services company devoted to

bringing its customers a wide range of chemicals. It furnishes

solutions for the agriculture, electronics, manufacturing, and oil and

gas industries, including well-known products like Styrofoam, DDT, and

Agent Orange, as well as lesser-known brands like Inspire, Retain,

Eliminator, Quash, and Woodstalk. For more on the Bhopal catastrophe,

please visit Dow at

# 30 #

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economic racism brian Sunday, Dec. 08, 2002 at 1:28 AM
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