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MIT Technology Review

Bhopal on the BBC

Did you see that the BBC was duped by an activist group claiming to be from Dow Chemical?Last week was the 20th anniversary of one of the worst man-made disasters of all time – the gas leak at a Union…

December 8, 2004

Did you see that the BBC was duped by an activist group claiming to be from Dow Chemical?

Last week was the 20th anniversary of one of the worst man-made disasters of all time – the gas leak at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. The leak instantly killed 7,000 people, and ultimately contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands more. Dow Chemical, Union Carbide’s parent company, has yet to adequately compensate the victims.

Last Friday the BBC had on someone claiming to be a spokesperson for Dow, who said that Dow had finally accepted responsibility for the leak and was moving to adequately compensate its victims to the tune of $12 billion. Except that the “spokesperson” was part of an anticorporate team of pranksters, as only the British can do it, called the “Yes Men” – you can see a replay of the broadcast here .

Dow was forced to admit that it was in fact not doing anything of the sort. Bhopal victims temporarily (and perhaps unfortunately) had their hopes raised.

Still, a marvelous piece of work.