LONDON: In a cruel sequence of events
on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the victims, their families and
poor poisoned Bhopal were all too briefly, and courtesy of a
goof-up, awarded a
12-billion-dollar hand-up from Dow Chemical Company, the world’s largest
chemical producer and current owner of Union Carbide.
In a spoof
reminiscent of an April Fool joke, the
allowed its platform to be used by
a man described as Dow spokesman Jude Finisterra.
grandiosely - and untruely as it now emerges - announced near Mad Max plans to
"liquidate Union Carbide remediate the Bhopal plant
Finisterra, who was swiftly disowned by Dow’s real
spokeswoman in Zurich Maria Ashanin, also announced that Dow accepted "full
responsibility for the Bhopal catastrophe."
But within minutes,
experts were deeply suspicious of that claimed reversal of Dow’s position
An alert Dow set out to disabuse the world of the notion
it had suddenly acquired a heart.
By Friday afternoon, Ashanin was
clarifying on the phone to the
Times of India
that Dow had been deeply "puzzled" by the
interview and its interviewee.
"We have absolutely no idea," she said, when asked how it was that
appeared to have fallen for a
hoax that tried to bounce Dow into a position it did not
Ashanin stressed that there was no change in Dow’s
position on Bhopal.
Dow, which bought Union Carbide three years ago,
has always maintained it "has no responsibility" for the Bhopal
Even on the tragedy’s sensitive 20th anniversary, and
with a public vigil vilifying Dow and Union Carbide underway on the faraway
streets of Bhopal, the company continued to remind the world it "never owned or
operated the Bhopal plant".
And it refused to bend even slightly to
demands by many, including most recently, Amnesty International, that it show a
little compassion for the victims of the world’s worst industrial
It had "philanthropic initiatives in India," it said, but
these were just the same as "elsewhere around the world in communities where we
live and work."
"These initiatives are not specific to Bhopal as we
do not own or operate a facility there," it added.
But the company
said even though it was not responsible for the disaster, it still remembered
that "day (December 3, 1984) well and the following days, when several thousand
It said the only good to come out of Bhopal was that
"the chemical industry learned and grew - creating Responsible Care (a code of
conduct and practice for chemical producers) with its strengthened focus on
process safety standards, emergency preparedness, and community