Annabelle Wills Caroline Scott and Jude Finisterra
Union Carbide India Limited (ucil), an American-owned carbide pesticide plant, three miles from Bhopal,India. CEO: Warren Anderson Products: pesticides, battery cells, bulk chemical intermediaries After a merger in 2001 with Dow, Union Carbide Dow emerged as the largest chemical corporation in the world. Union Carbide Corporation 1984
Dec.3, 1984: A Day to Remember Dec. 3, 1984, a Union Carbide Corporation (ucc) plant in Bhopal, India began leaking 27 tons of methyl isocynate – a poisonous gas. More than 8,000 people died in the first 3 days. 520,000 people were exposed to the gas.
Maintenance of facilities ignored Safety systems shut off to save money Located in densely populated area Lack of skilled operators Inadequate emergency action plan Failure to recognize previous plant issue Contributing Factors to Incident:
Aftermath: 1984 - present Survivors and inhabitants of the region continue to suffer from lung fibrosis, impaired vision, bronchial asthma, TB as well as water contamination. A third generation of victims is also emerging. Although UCC claimed to have provided adequate compensation and care, due to settlements outside of court victims were only allocated $500pp, which is approximately one year ’ s worth of care for life-long ailments and did not cover any clean up of the site or the area.
Change is here: 20 years later Pledge: $12Billion from liquidating UCC Compensation for the victims – more than $500pp like before Full scale cleaning of the site and area Accepting responsibility and being accountable for UCC ’ s actions
Reaction: Dow ’ s share price fell by 4.2% in 23minutes. They shaved $2billion off their market value. There was widespread joy and gratification felt by the victims upon hearing this news.
Yes Men: Gorilla Semiotics The yes man ’ s game is to infiltrate mainstream media and to expose social issues. H A C K T I V I S M tactics include: Fake websites Impersonating representatives from companies they want to expose Creating fake media and press releases
The stunt received vast media attention. The Yes Men achieved their ultimate goal – to open up the issue of Bhopal again, bringing awareness to the public after a dormant period.
Newsworthy: BBC fell for it BBC world news broadcast a correction and an apology: The BBC has fallen victim to an elaborate hoax timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of India ’ s Bhopal chemical disaster.
Official Statement from Dow: Bhopal was a terrible tragedy that none of us will ever forget. However, it is important to note that Dow never owned or operated the plant, which today is under the control of the Madhya Pradesh state government. Dow acquired the shares of Union Carbide Corporation more than 16 years after the tragedy, and 10 years after the $470 million settlement agreement - paid by Union Carbide Corporation and Union Carbide India, Limited - was approved by the Indian Supreme Court.
Spin Doctor: Dow’s recovery Dow deflected all of the negative attention they received onto the BBC and the Yes Men for deceiving the public and the victims by sullying their reputation. . The apology by the BBC validated Dow ’ s response and discredited the Yes Men ’ s statement altogether. Dow reprimanded the Yes Men for giving false hope to the Bhopal survivors After news of the hoax surfaced their stocks rose again and came out of it more or less intact.
Social Media Dow did not have a Facebook page until 2009 which meant that there was no opportunity for two-way communication between the public and the company. The lack of social media platforms meant that the public had a less direct way of voicing their opinions and mobilising anti-Dow support. The opinions which did make the media were localised – allowing Dow to move past this incident with more ease. The Yes Men continue to spread their messsage through their fake websites.
Recent disasters: BP oil spill In comparison to the Bhopal incident, BP ’ s response to a huge oil leak in 2010 is very different. BP ’ s response: a huge public apology large scale cleaning of the area Brand image refurbishment