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Bhopal Liability

Monday, June 07, 2010

Mira Kamdar, fellow at the Asia Society and senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, discusses the eight convictions of Union Carbide representatives in relation to the Bhopal.

Guests:

Mira Kamdar

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Comments [15]

Laurie from NJ

I don't understand why Bhopal is considered an environmental disaster at all. A horror, a human disaster, but an industrial accident. Where is the long term environmental impact?

Jun. 07 2010 11:29 PM
Vic from !

When Union Carbide made their deal to construct a chemical plant in Bhopal, India (?) or wherever, what were the guide lines? Did they hold the same standards for security and zoning as they would be accountable for if the same factory were constructed in the U.S.? What was the Indian government's involvement with the approval and enforcement of any standards?
It's my understanding that this chemical factory was originally constructed away from any major residential area. People seeking jobs, however, came to live outside the security fence because right there was their new source of opportunity.
Who's responsibility was it to control where the local population came to live?
Was there any immediate response to the formation of a ghetto outside the factory's security fence by Union Carbide or the Indian government? Do any company or government records exist concerning this issue in Bhopal, prior to the disaster?

Jun. 07 2010 12:01 PM
Te Revesz from New York

The discussion missed a number of points:

1. The plant in Bhopal was a JOINT VENTURE between the INDIAN GOVERNMENT and Union Carbide.

2. Anderson initially flew to India to try and manage the crisis, in what was then considered "best practices" in crisis management." The Indian government promptly put him in jail. Its understandable why he never came back. Had he spent time on site and saw first hand the devestating impact on the communities, there might have been a better settlement (or maybe it would have been the same).

3. Lessons: for the Gulf (also drawn from Exxon Valdez and Chernobyl -- and from the 9/11 survivors, families and first responders)

a) Recompense needs to be timely. Victims shoud be recompensed for known impacts within days, weeks or at most months of their being identified.

b) Recompense needs to be realistic from the victims' perspective. Compensate for full economic loss or health impacts.

c) There needs to be provision for long term (20-30 year) impacts that may not be visible immediately (long term physical and mental health, economic injury ) .

d) Site remidiation needs to be monitored for at least 20 years.

Former editor "Business International"

Jun. 07 2010 11:01 AM
Fred from NJ

The specter of Bhopal had a profound impact on chemical manufacturing here in NJ. With an eye to liability, pharmaceutical manufacturers relocated potentially hazardous plants to rural states or abroad. The Bayway refinery in Linden was decommissioned and moved south. The remaining hazardous plants that have become a focus of concern following 9-11 are only a fraction of the pre-Bhopal industry concentration (and, regrettably, the employment it afforded.)

Jun. 07 2010 10:49 AM
Maria from NYC

Further to Brian's closing comment about raising awareness of the Bhopal disaster, there is a very heartfelt and heart-rending book about the very human toll of this tragic event written by Dominique LaPierre and Javier Moro called "Five Minutes Past Midnight".

Here are the details of it:
http://www.amazon.com/Five-Past-Midnight-Bhopal-Industrial/dp/0446530883

Jun. 07 2010 10:44 AM
C Gallagher from New York

How can you state that Bhopal or BP Oil as the worst environment disasters, when you had 1986 Chernobyl disaster?

Jun. 07 2010 10:36 AM
Robert from NYC

I remember Bopal as if it happened yesterday. How can anyone who was around at the time not remember it. It was truly a horror and the photos were really horrendously sad to see those poor people in that state. I remember the baby picture with eyes wide open.
I didn't realize it was 26 years ago until you mentioned it. I thought at most 10!

Jun. 07 2010 10:35 AM
Hugh Sansom

The victims at Bhopal were likely also poor and lower caste. Most higher caste Indians would have been utterly indifferent to the suffering of those poor victims. (By no means a phenomenon unique to India. No formal caste structure required. Look at the indifference of American politicians and oligarchs to the suffering of millions of Americans.)

Jun. 07 2010 10:35 AM
dan

how 'bout Chernobyl? Maybe not as many deaths, but the environmental destruction was far greater. And look at what's gone on in the Amazon w/Texaco... let alone the long term effects of logging

Jun. 07 2010 10:35 AM
Serena from UWS

First of all, it was not the India that caused this delay. Union Carbide and its insurers did not want to pay the victims dead and alive settlements.

Jun. 07 2010 10:34 AM
Ken from River Vale, NJ

Wouldn't the Chernobyl disaster be considered to be "worse" than Bhopal?

Jun. 07 2010 10:34 AM
sally from queens

could we get a chernobyl slideshow on the website too?

Jun. 07 2010 10:34 AM
Maria from NYC

Please tell Brian that the guest's name is pronounced "mee-ra", like Mira Nair, not "my-ra" like Myra Breckenridge.

The photos on Indian TV today are a very sad and horrific reminder of what happened in Bhopal.

Jun. 07 2010 10:33 AM
Hugh Sansom

I remember this vividly, including many of the images — particularly that of the child the guest mentions. Some of the photos make me think of the preserved victims at Pompeii.

Imagine the US response to a foreign company allowing something like this in the US with thousands and thousands dead. It would be treated as an act of war.

Jun. 07 2010 10:33 AM
Monte from hohokus nj

Thanks for highlighting another disaster when we have enough on our plate. Please describe more horrific photographs lady.

Jun. 07 2010 10:30 AM

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