9 /11 x 10. Today, December 3, is the thirtieth anniversary of the most horrendous case of industrial manslaughter in history which dwarfs the casualties from the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The Bhopal, India massacre, resulted in the immediate death of nearly 4,000 villagers, and the ultimate death of 25,000, and the subsequent sickness of hundreds of thousands and their yet to be born children. I did not use the word “accident” because the conditions of disrepair which led to the Sarin gas leak from the Union Carbide plant were spotted months before, but the American owners, led by CEO Warren Anderson chose not to make those vital repairs in the Indian plant though they did so in a similar plant in the U.S. At the very least the management of Union Carbide should have faced charges of manslaughter if not outright murder.
Warren Anderson, the CEO was arrested in India to face charges but, given bail, he absconded to the U.S. with the connivance of Indian and U.S. officials, and for thirty years lived in luxury in the Hamptons of Long Island as a fugitive from Indian justice, until his death a month ago in Florida. The U.S. refused to extradite him. The corrupt Indian government was less than energetic in pursuing Mr. Anderson for fear that other corporations would shy away from investing in their country. To this day, children in and around Bhopal are being born with birth defects caused in large part from the effects of the deadly gas.
Compensation? Don’t be ridiculous! This is a limited liability corporation we’re dealing with, whose CEO has the fiduciary obligation never to admit wrong doing, always to maximise the bottom line, even at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, for fear of incurring the wrath of those fine, upstanding people – the stock holders.
The company did offer a little over four hundred million dollars in reparations – that amounted to a few hundred dollars per victim – apparently the going rate for the killing of brown people.
So, as we mourn and commemorate the victims of 9/11 we should do the same for the people of Bhopal, remembering December 3, 1984, to underscore our understanding of what lengths the corporate mindset will go to fill their pockets. And to realize the dangers of the American Corporatocracy.
XL Pipeline anyone?