Published January 10, 2003 in the Midland (MI) Daily News
Beth Medley Bellor
The Greenpeace version of events smacked of astounding corporate insensitivity. “Dow sues Bhopal victims,” the word came out.
As usual, The Dow Chemical Co.’s version of events is somewhat different.
Dow has been the target of numerous overseas protests since it acquired Union Carbide Corp. as a wholly owned subsidiary. Many in India and elsewhere in the world still hold Union Carbide responsible for the 1984 explosion blamed for the deaths and incapacitation of thousands, and say Dow now bears moral and financial responsibility to the survivors. Dow insists it does not.
A protest in India a couple of years ago was “fairly violent,” said Dow spokesman John Musser, with shrubs torn out and paint thrown on cars and buildings. Dow filed a request for an injunction with the local court, offering evidence of adverse impact.
“The court did issue an interim injunction, which provided for assurance that the protesters could not come within 100 feet of the plant and they couldn’t block employees from coming and going freely,” Musser said.
Since then, the National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal has become the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and has taken on Greenpeace as a partner. With different protesters, a new injunction was needed. While the most recent protest was peaceful, Musser said, it did interrupt business for two to three hours, and Dow has asked for $10,000 in compensation.
“Our objective was not to receive financial proceeds from this, it’s to assure the safety of our employees and protect our right to run our business without interruption,” he said.
This week, Greenpeace has been delivering toxic waste collected from Bhopal — contained in barrels — to Dow in the Netherlands instead.