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BHOPAL – India: 30 Years Later

Friday, December 5th, 2014 by

Thirty years ago, on the night of December 2, 1984, the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India, leaked 30,000 tons of poisonous gas. More than 3,500 people died that night or in the next few days from the poison. Over the last 30 years, another 25,000 people have died from debilitating ailments directly related to that industrial catastrophe. Various investigating teams have determined that the accident was due to faulty and inadequate maintenance, poor plant supervision, and a policy of under investment to improve profits and cash flow.

Bhopal DVD

That first sentence, paraphrased from an Al Jazeera report yesterday, deserves to be repeated again and again: “Thirty years ago, on the night of December 2, 1984, the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India, leaked 30,000 tons of poisonous gas.”

The continuing, annual death toll from one of the worst industrial catastrophes in history — certainly on a par with Chernobyl and worse than Fukushima — is due simply to the abdication of any responsibility for the event by Union Carbide. The location of the plant is still, today, a slime pond of industrial pollutants that were never contained or cleaned up after the event. Union Carbide sold itself to Dow Chemical to avoid litigation and fines. And Warren Andersen, the then president of Union Carbide, spent the rest of his life avoiding litigation, arrest, and … responsibility.

This story is told clearly and chillingly in the extraordinary documentary by Van Maximillian Carlson.
Winning both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury “Best Documentary” Award at Slamdance (2011), the film went on to win the Best Documentary Award at the Los Angeles International Film Festival (2011). The Best Director Award from the Los Angeles film festival went to Carlson.

The film presents the story generally through the personal story of Sanjay Verma, who emerges as an extraordinary spiritual force as a young person who survived the night of the poison gas through the singular efforts of his sister — but who lost the rest of his 10 person family to that night. He has devoted his living energies to reconstruction and rehabilitation, surmounting what must be mountainous surges of rage and bitterness. He is an extraordinary young man.

This is one of the most important films in the IndiePix catalog and we are proud to be able to present it. The clearly documented qualities of corporate greed and irresponsibility, which have become so familiar to us in today’s newspapers, are stamped all over the 30 year history of this disaster. As Sanjay says in his article in Al Jazeera:

Everyone on this earth should feel this anger and frustration. It has been 30 years and justice continues to elude the people of Bhopal. We, the people of Bhopal, believe that the whole world has transformed into a Bhopal in a way: If you look around, you see multinational corporations being allowed to do business without accountability, poisoning the world and placing profits over people. If justice comes to Bhopal, then it would be justice for the whole world. It would set a precedent and ensure that in the future, corporations committing such crimes are brought to justice.

Please see this film. In remembrance of the 30th anniversary of this terrible night, we have cut the prices for the DVD and streaming copy in half. It is important that people see and understand this message.

Bob Alexander

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