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Toxic Trespassers On Trial: The Long Wake Of Bhopal

On December 3, 1984, more than 8,000 people died in Bhopal, India when a pesticide manufacturing plant owned and operated by Union Carbide Corporation (now Dow Chemical) exploded in the middle of the night. It was one of the worst industrial disasters in history. In the 27 years since, at least 20,000 more have died as a result of this one event and the area surrounding the plant remains a toxic waste site.

People know about Bhopal like they know about Chernobyl. What many don’t know is that the night after the explosion, the company’s CEO hopped on a private jet and fled the country and Dow Chemical has yet to be held accountable. Nearly three decades have passed and the people of Bhopal have yet to see justice and not for lack of trying. There remains a vital international campaign calling on Dow to do the right thing. But Dow is a tough target with thick skin–they don’t care.

Why then, should organizers continue targeting Dow as a bad corporate actor if public shame does not work? Because there is simply no other mechanism of justice available. Big players like Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont, and Monsanto effectively operate above the law. Read more

One Supertoxic Chemical Down, Thousands To Go

Last week, and capping at least a decades-long battle by consumer advocates, the EPA announced a long-awaited ban on the pesticide endosulfan — one of the last legal organochlorine pesticides, a notorious group of which DDT is a member. Horrifically toxic (possibly more toxic to humans than DDT) and banned in the European Union since 2007, endosulfan remains in common — though technically restricted — use, especially on Florida tomatoes and California and Nevada cotton, according to the Pesticide Action Network, while an article in the Environmental Health News presents a much longer list of uses, including melons, cucumbers, squashes, potatoes, apples, blueberries, eggplant, lettuce and other leafy vegetables, pears, peppers and stone fruit and cotton. Read more