Thursday, December 09, 2004

Yes Men Hoax on BBC Reminds World of Dow Chemical's Refusal to Take Responsibility for Bhopal Disaster

This is just too delicious for words.

This week was the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. Union Carbide never did right by the thousands of victims; Dow bought Carbide a few years ago and is being irresponsible as well. Enter the Yes Men. They got the Beeb to run their spoof spokesman's apology and offer to pay billions in compensation on behalf of Dow. It took two hours for a retraction to run.

The really fun part was the second round. Dow issued a press release denying that the pseudo-spokesman, "Jude Finesterra," was a Dow employee, but not addressing the substance of his comments. The Yes Men issued a more complete retraction:

To be perfectly clear:

The Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) will NOT be liquidated. (The fake "Dow plan" called for the dissolution and sale of Dow's fully owned subsidiary, estimated at US$12 billion, to fund compensation and remediation in Bhopal.)
Dow will NOT commit ANY funds to compensate and treat 120,000 Bhopal residents who require lifelong care. The Bhopal victims have ALREADY been compensated; many received about US$500 several years ago, which in India can cover a full year of medical care.
(2) Dow will NOT remediate (clean up) the Bhopal plant site. We do understand that UCC abandoned thousands of tons of toxic chemicals on the site, and that these still contaminate the groundwater which area residents drink. Dow estimates that the Indian government's recent proposal to commission a study to consider the possibility of proper remediation at some point in the future is fully sufficient.

Dow does NOT urge the US to extradite former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson to India, where he has been wanted for 20 years on multiple homicide charges.

(3) Dow will NOT release proprietary information on the leaked gases, nor the results of studies commissioned by UCC and never released.
Dow will NOT fund research on the safety of Dow endocrine disruptors (ECDs) considered to have long-term negative effects.
Dow DOES agree that "One can't assign a dollar value to doing what's morally right," as hoaxter Finisterra said. That is why Dow acknowledged and resolved many of Union Carbide's liabilities in the US immediately after acquiring the company in 2001.

(4) Most importantly of all:

Dow shareholders will see NO losses, because Dow's policy towards Bhopal HAS NOT CHANGED. Much as we at Dow may care, as human beings, about the victims of the Bhopal catastrophe, we must reiterate that Dow's sole and unique responsibility is to its shareholders, and Dow CANNOT do anything that goes against its bottom line unless forced to by law.

Brilliant. The only way it could have been better would have been if it had run here, say, on Fox. But that could never happen, because Bhopal doesn't exist for the American media.

For more of the same, check out their Dow spoof site, dowethics.


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