South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Brown Bag Talk: Bhopal Diaries: Recent experiences from the shadows of the Disaster

Shana Ortman

Thu, March 11, 2010 | WCH 4.118

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Shana Ortman's Bio:

Shana has worked on social and environmental justice for the past 10 years.  Before becoming the U.S. Coordinator for ICJB in April 2008, she spent nearly four years at ForestEthics, where she was the Lead Organizer on the Paper Campaign.  Her work focused on leadership development and creating grassroots organizing for a campaign that transformed the catalog industry to protect Endangered Forests. Most notably, in 2006, they won the Victoria's Dirty Secret campaign, a three year campaign that included over 750 grassroots actions across North America.  Shana got her B.A. in Humanities, with a focus on Children's Literature and Social Change from New College of California in 2005.  She also spent two years studying Anthropology at Grinnell College, where she was very involved with student activism for environmental justice and human rights. She has spent time in Bhopal and traveling across the U.S. with Bhopal survivors.

Title of the Talk: "Bhopal Diaries: Recent experiences from the shadows of the Disaster"

Talk Abstract:

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) is an international survivor-led campaign for justice, working towards a life of dignity for the survivors of the ongoing Bhopal Disaster.  In December, 2009 we commemorated 25 years of courage in the face of corporate crime.  
Twenty-five years after a toxic gas cloud exploded from a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, the factory has still not been cleaned up and continues to leak toxic chemicals into the neighboring water wells. On December 3, 1984 thousands died from exposure to the poisonous gas, and 100,000 people were permanently injured.  Nearly 25,000 people have died since that night. Twenty-five years later, a new generation is being born in Bhopal with birth defects that survivors believe are related to their chemical exposures - cleft palate, twisted limbs, cerebral palsy, growth retardation, and more. Twenty-five years later, the company’s American executives have still not been brought to trial, despite extradition and court orders from India.
ICJB believes that Dow Chemical, the Indian Government, the Government of Madhya Pradesh, and the United States Government all have responsibilities towards creating justice in Bhopal.
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal demands the following:

    * Clean up the poisoned groundwater and contaminated areas within and outside the factory. The Indian government requested a $23 million deposit from Dow for clean up, which Dow has not provided. The government must begin clean up now to prevent further spread of the toxins, and use the courts to get reimbursed by Dow.
    * Dow’s subsidiary, Union Carbide, must show up in court to face trial in the ongoing criminal proceedings against them in India.
    * In August 2008, the Indian Government promised to establish an “empowered commission” to address the health, environmental, social, and economic issues in Bhopal. They need to fulfill this promise now.
    * The Indian Government also promised to build pipelines to bring clean water to the communities that have been drinking, eating, and washing with water contaminated by the chemicals that Union Carbide left behind.  Construction was started, but has been stalled, and needs to be completed urgently.

Shana Ortman was in Bhopal last month, and will provide updates on the current situation and powerful people's movement.

Sponsored by: South Asia Institute

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