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Bhopal Revealed as World's Largest Insurance Fire

"Former Union Carbide project engineer Umesh Nanda told the court that at the time of the disaster the management was planning to dismantle the plant, which was running huge losses."

reported by AFP

Debacle Continues in Texas, Investigations Stymied by Campaign Contributers to Tom Delay and the Republican National Committee
by David Roknich

During the past 20 years, instead of serving a prison term in India, Warren Anderson has been living the corporate High Life. A generation has passed since his act of knowing negligence directly caused the deaths of thousands of people in Bhopal India, and the eventual deaths of many thousand more.

His assumption is that by now, the world has forgotten, and that he can continue his work in the corporate sphere.

All along the coast of Texas there are reasons why we should not forget him, and thanks to the courage of Diane Wilson, we won't.

Union Carbide is one of the corporate polluters from Texas that were taken on by Diane when she began to wonder why her shrimping business was suffering: scientific evidence proved that it was due to uncontrolled chemical emissions from factories on the Texas coast.

Her initial target was a newly constructed plastics manufacturing plant from Formosa Chemicals, because it was their pollution that was killing her shrimp.

(see previous story for details)

Her activism eventually led her to challenge Union Carbide.

What makes this story news today is the increasing negligence by the same corporations that drew public and official scorn over 20 years ago.Typically, a few thousand dollars in campaign contributions and perhaps a few hundred thousand in fines is enough to stave of investigations of a billion dollar operation. Formosa's initial investment was somewhat more that one billion dollars in the early 90s, and it was accompanied by a $10,000 contribution to Tom Delay. Since then, Tom Delay has built an empire on the campaign contributions of companies whose safety violations are increasingly overlooked, and the scandal "continues to explode" .

Bhopal is an example of how big a disaster can be when safety regulations are routinely overlooked for the convenience of the corporate agenda. The holocaust in Bhopal dwarfs the worst natural disasater in recent history.

The number of people killed and injured by the release of toxic gas in Bhopal far excedes the toll of 911: and more than 500,000 - half a million people were seriously injured in the aftermath.

On December 3, 21 years will have passed since the disaster in Bhopal. As a reminder of the legal status of the case against Warren Andersen here are a few more excerpts from the AFP story quoted above:

Bhopa - AFP(08-23-02)l -- A court ruled that a former chairman of US-based Union Carbide should face culpable homicide charges over the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, rejecting the Indian government's attempt to dilute them to negligence.

The ruling after a two-day hearing by Chief Magistrate Rameshwar Khote in this central Indian city represents a significant victory for victims of the disaster, who had feared former company chairman Warren Anderson would escape justice.

Khote ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had brought the application to reduce the gravity of the charges, to proceed with the culpable homicide case.

Anderson now faces the prospect of being extradited from the United States to stand trial in India, where if found guilty he faces a jail term of up to 20 years.

At least 3,000 people died when a gas leak occurred at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on December 3, 1984 and more than half a million people were seriously injured.

At least another 10,000 deaths have been linked to the disaster, according to victims' groups, who had opposed the reduction of charges.

Should the government have succeeded in getting the charges reduced, Anderson could have evaded trial in India as an extradition treaty between the two countries does not cover cases of negligence.

But the Indian government did not succeed in getting the charges against Andersen reduced, and my question is, why would they have tried?

The US government has, however, succeeded in protecting Andersen from extradition during this time period.

Warren Andersen is an example of the kind of corporate irresponsibility that can bring Texas down in flames. Th third world indeed has come home: where corporations once had to go overseas in order to enjoy the luxury of lax regulation and put "human capital" at risk as they saw fit, they can now stay home and do the same - as long as the proper campaign contributions are in place.

During the onslaught of the recent hurricanes, many stories almost surface about "exploding refineries and chemical plants". The natural disasters were a convenient mask for the ultimate result of corporate negligence. On victim was quoted as saying: "I knew it was time to get out when my skin started peeling over"

Now is the time to unmask the corporate criminals, and put and end to the corporate holocaust that has come home to roost like the rest of our contributions to the fate of the "third world.



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