To: Cr Jim Soorley <>
Subject: Lest we forget!  
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 5:14 PM

My dear Lord Mayor


Late one Sunday evening, December 2, 1984, during routine maintenance operations in the Union Carbide plant at Bhopal, India, a large quantity of water entered one of the storage tanks triggering a runaway reaction that resulted in the deaths of more than 16,000 people and the maiming of more than 500,000 others.  

Bhopals can happen anywhere, and are, in fact, already happening in many places. Local pollution problems, be they polluting factories, garbage dumps, pesticides in food, or medical waste incinerators are all mini-Bhopals happening in slow motion.

The Bhopal Legacy is available on Internet:

The Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology being established in Brisbane's inner west with separate gene tech laboratories proposed in our residential suburbs namely the IMB at St Lucia, and the NSP at Long Pocket pose a sililar threat to our community. Your recent backflip, going back on your previous assurance to concerned residents that you would "strongly resist inappropriate development" has not gone un-noticed by the community.

The ramifications of plonking high-tech research laboratories "slap bang" in the centre of Brisbane's inner western suburbs has profound implications.   In the interest of public safety, and a precautionary approach, the residents urge a delay in the approvals until such time as these matters can be properly assessed and reviewed by appropriate, impartial and independent experts. Your electorate depends upon it.

Lest we forget!

Biohazard Action Alliance

Greenpeace International Press Office
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 7:28 PM


29 November, Mumbai/Amsterdam – The site around the
former Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India – where one of the
world’s worst industrial disasters took place 15 years ago – is still
highly contaminated by toxic chemicals, according to the report published
today by Greenpeace.

In its report entitled "The Bhopal Legacy," Greenpeace highlights
that the factory site is still extensively contaminated by toxic
chemicals such as mercury and hazardous organochlorines. Some
of the organochlorines found in groundwater supplying the
neighbouring communities of gas victims are known to have been
used at the plant during its routine operations. The levels of
mercury found in a sample taken in conjuction with local Bhopal
support groups in May 1999 from a location within the factory,
were between 20,000 and 6 million times higher than background
levels which would be expected in uncontaminated soils. Mercury
is highly toxic to the central nervous system.

Greenpeace has declared the former Union Carbide factory in
Bhopal a Global Toxic Hotspot and calls for Union Carbide to
clean up the toxic legacy and hazardous wastes left at the site
when the plant was closed down fifteen years ago on December
3 1984 after a poisonous gas leak from the pesticide factory killed
an estimated 16,000 people and injured as many as 500,000.

"The results of the survey indicate severe contamination by toxic
chemicals at a number of locations within the old plant. The extent
and nature of toxic chemicals found in the ground water indicate
the need for immediate action to be taken to provide clean
drinking water supplies for the local communities, and to prevent
further releases of chemicals from the factory site itself" said
senior Greenpeace research scientist Ruth Stringer.

In the worst contaminated sample of groundwater taken from a
handpump in Atal Ayub Nagar along the Northeast corner of the
factory, concentrations of carbon tetrachloride, a substance
suspected to cause cancer, exceeded limits set by the World
Health Organisation by 1705 times. Chloroform in the same
sample exceeded the USEPA standards for drinking water by 260
times. According to the report, the presence of the chlorinated
chemicals in the well waters near the Carbide plant is
"undoubtedly due to the long-term industrial contamination of
surrounding environment" by the Carbide factory. The report
concluded that consumption of water, contaminated by chemicals
found in the study, for long periods could cause significant health

"The contaminated condition of the Union Carbide site is a prime
example of corporate irresponsibility and the inability or
unwillingness of Governments to rein in corporations at the cost of
public safety and environmental health," said Nityanand
Jayaraman, Greenpeace's Toxics campaigner in India. "The fact
that Union Carbide has escaped without cleaning up the site exposes the
gaping loophole in the legal and administrative infrastructure to ensure
corporate responsibility. The international community needs to devise
means of ensuring that there are no more Bhopals."

Some of the chemicals found at the Carbide factory are persistent
organic pollutants (POPs) that do not degrade easily in the
environment and are capable of causing long-term and debilitating
damage to life.

Launching the Toxic Free Asia tour, Greenpeace aims to expose
industrial pollution and toxic trade and raise issues of clean
production and communities’ right to know in the continent. The
flagship Rainbow Warrior will be visiting India, Thailand, the
Philippines, China and Japan.

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