Welcome to the first discussion about anything serious on Steel White Table. The topic of the Bhopal disaster was brought up by the right honourable Tommyboy. First off, let’s read some of the Wikipedia entry on the Bhopal disaster:
The Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) disaster — also known as the Bhopal disaster or the Bhopal gas tragedy — was an industrial catastrophe that took place at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on December 3, 1984. Around 12 AM, the plant released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins, resulting in the exposure of over 500,000 people. Estimates vary on the death toll — the official immediate death toll was 2,259, which rose greatly over time. The government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Another source says that a few days later the death toll had doubled. Over the next few years, the lingering effects of the poison nearly doubled the toll again, to about 15,000, according to government estimates. Local activists say the real numbers are almost twice that. Others estimate 8,000-10,000 died within 72 hours and 25,000 have since died from gas-related diseases.
Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tonnes of toxic chemicals abandoned at the Union Carbide plant continue to leak and pollute the ground water in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents who depend on it, though there is some dispute as to whether the chemicals still stored at the site pose any continuing health hazard. There are currently civil and criminal cases related to the disaster ongoing in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India against Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical Company, with arrest warrants pending against Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster. No one has yet been prosecuted.
Tommyboy said this (edited for coherency):
I was just reading this article on CBC.ca about the Bhophal Union Carbide disaster of the eighties. I remember when it happened being astounded at the loss of life (the same with Lake Nyos, the lake in Cameroon that gave off gas and killed many). I have often queried since 9/11 why we in the west did not have a “war on batteries.” I’ve always been curious about this.
Basically 4,000 people in India can be killed in an industrial accident as part of a conglomeration of companies that assist in making cheap stuff for us North Americans. While there is a flurry of recriminations, there appears to be no long term difficulties for those responsible. Yet, a couple planes bring down a couple of buildings and a conflict is entered into in the name of retribution and security, mobilizing nations against one another.
So I guess depending on where one lives, one’s life may not be worth or valued the same as others. 4,000 lives here are not worth the same as 3,000 there.
Just a thought as I was reading the story.