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November 29, 2004
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  Latest News  
  December 3,  2004


  Dow Settlement On Bhopal A Hoax
Bogus BBC report quickly exposed but not before hurting stock price


Dow Chemical’s stock price took a tumble after BBC World issued a bogus report that the firm accepted full responsibility for the Bhopal, India, chemical disaster and would pay $12 billion in compensation.

Dow’s share fell 3.4% to $49.58 in trading on the Frankfurt Exchange on Dec. 3 after the 24-hour television world news service interviewed a purported Dow spokesman in Paris who made the fake claim. A Dow spokeswoman promptly denied the report. And when the market opened in New York City, shares soon began to trade above the opening price of $49.70.

The Dow spokeswoman also confirmed the firm’s long-held position that it bears no responsibility for the accident, whose 20th anniversary was on Dec. 3. The accident killed more than 3,800 people and injured thousands more.

BBC said in a statement, “We apologize to Dow and anyone who watched the interview who may have been misled by it.” The information BBC broadcast about Dow “was inaccurate [and] part of an elaborate deception. The person did not represent the company.”

The hoaxer later told BBC radio service that he was part of the group “Yes Men,” which pokes fun at business and government groups. He claimed he was “speaking on behalf of Dow in a certain way.” And was “expressing what they should express.” He added, “ I have enough connection with Dow as everybody else on the planet. I use many of their products.”

But the hoaxer also said he heard that Bhopal residents broke down in tears when they heard the news, and he felt bad about that.

The Yes Men hoaxed Dow Chemical two years ago when the group issued a phony press release and put up a bogus website spoofing the firm. The press release, purportedly issued by Dow on the 18th anniversary of the Bhopal accident, callously distanced itself from the disaster because taking responsibility would hurt shareholder value. The sham website, complete with logos and text from the real thing, also reproduced documents from Dow’s website but replaced words like “chemicals” and “epoxy” with the words “toxics” and “bhopoxy.”

  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2004

Related Story
Twenty Years After Bhopal
[C&EN, Jun. 7, 2004]
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