Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Corporates run away from water

July 13, 2009

Photos: http://www.theyesmen.org/blog/dow-runs-scared-from-water

London - A new, beautifully-designed line of bottled water - this time
not from the melting Alps, nor from faraway, clean-water-deprived Fiji,
but rather from the contaminated ground near the site of the 1984 Bhopal
catastrophe - scared Dow Chemical's London management team into hiding

Twenty Bhopal activists, including Sathyu Sarangi of the Sambhavna
Clinic in Bhopal, showed up at Dow headquarters near London to find that
the entire building had been vacated.

Had they not fled, Dow employees could have read on the bottles' elegant

B'eau-Pal: Our Story
The unique qualities of our water come from 25 years of slow-
leaching toxins at the site of the world's largest industrial
accident. To this day, Dow Chemical (who bought Union Carbide) has
refused to clean up, and whole new generations have been poisoned.
For more information, please visit http://www.bhopal.org.

The launch of "B'eau-Pal" water came as Bhopal prepares to mark the 25th
anniversary of the Bhopal catastrophe, and coincides with the release of
an official report by the Sambhavna Trust showing that local
groundwater, vegetables, and breast milk are contaminated by toxic
quantities of nickel, chromium, mercury, lead, and volatile organic
compounds. The report describes how a majority of children in one nearby
community are born with serious medical problems traceable to the

The attractive yet toxic product, developed by the Bhopal Medical Appeal
and the Yes Men with pro-bono help from top London creative design firm
Kennedy Monk, highlights Dow's continued refusal to take responsibility
for the disaster. (Five years ago, the Yes Men impersonated Dow Chemical
live on BBC World Television and announced that after 20 years, the
company was finally going to clean up its mess in Bhopal. That hoax,
which temporarily knocked two billion dollars off Dow's share price, is
featured in the Yes Men's new movie, The Yes Men Fix The World, which
opens in UK cinemas on August 11.)

Though Dow has consistently refused to clean up the mess in Bhopal, they
have taken numerous steps to clean up their image. In a recent press
release, for example, Andrew Liveris, Dow's Chairman and CEO, noted that
"lack of clean water is the single largest cause of disease in the world
and more than 4,500 children die each day because of it." He went on to
assert that "Dow is committed to creating safer, more sustainable water
supplies for communities around the world."

The Yes Men met Liveris' attempt to greenwash Dow's environmental record
with a challenge.

"Since Liveris earns $16,182,544 per year, he could give each of the
children who die worldwide for lack of clean water $10 per day to buy
Evian, Fiji Water, or Perrier," said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men. "Or,
for vastly less money, he could build them clean-water pipelines, like
the ones that Bhopal so badly needs."

Dow's greenwashing comes while Bhopal is experiencing an extremely rare
drought (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/12/india-water-supply-bhopal),
just three years after facing its greatest floods ever. "Even though
people are already dying by the hundreds of thousands, and we know that
climate change will kill many more, companies like Dow are not being
forced to cut back on emissions," said the Sambhavna Clinic's Sathyu
Sarangi. "Bhopal should be a lesson to the world - one we must learn
before it's too late for all of us."

The Yes Men have elaborate plans to contribute to the movement for
meaningful action on climate change, beginning in early September and
culminating at the December climate talks in Copenhagen. To contribute
financially to these efforts (which of course we can't tell you about),
please visit http://theyesmen.org/donate/now. And if you live in New
York and know how to sew, swim, get arrested, or pretty much anything
else, please write to us.

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