News & Politics

Dow Action Diary: Day 23

Hunger strike at Dow
On July 17, activist Diane Wilson began a hunger strike in front of the gates of the Dow Chemical/Union Carbide corporation in Seadrift, Texas. She hopes to call attention to the plight of victims of 1984's industrial accident in Bhopal, India where, to date, Dow has still not cleaned up the derelict factory or adequately compensated the victims and survivors. Supporting Diane are Jodie Evans and other members of the group UnReasonable Women. What follows are excerpts from the daily emails Jodie and others send to the hundreds of supporters also on hunger strikes around the world in support of the victims of Bhopal.

no moreCrazy Texas weather! Hurricane brewing off the Texas Gulf Coast and a north wind blowing. Haven't seen a north wind blowing in the summer in a coon's age ... well, at least a week anyhow.

Walked down to the contractor's gate this morning, thought I'd give the fellas a real treat and let up on the Carbide employees for a while. Besides, don't want to get too predictable out here. Heard once some good advice: Leave no tracks.

The contractors are generally friendlier than the Dow employees. Dow employees are serious about their jobs down here (that's what they call them, serious jobs! meaning insurance and retirement of which fishermen have none). The consequences of accepting flyers from the enemy (I guess that's me) is harder on them than the contractors.

So far, Dow has laid off from 300 to 400 workers since the merger and everybody is walking on eggshells. There is a wild rumor of the plant closing and that just makes them a little edgier. I get all kinds of responses from the workers, some wave and smile, a few have told me to bug off (not quite those words) and a woman keeps calling me a b---ch!

Kathy Hunt, the PR lady, came by again this morning. Since the incident of 12,000 lbs. and all the screaming engines and sirens and whistles, she seems anxious to please, she wants to know who my new Unreasonable woman is and Ginny McGinn introduces herself. Kathy is nodding and taking all this in.

While she's asking questions, I start asking mine. What was that chemical that was dumped? How much and how much have they cleaned up? I am curious because I drive by the area where it was spilled and two days later the smell is very potent and could easily make you sick.

"Caribtol, nothing to worry about, the men cleaning up, after all, didn't wear moon suits."

I tell her one of her workers gave me a listing of the health effects of Carbide/Dow's trade names and Carbitol is listed as an embryo-fetal toxin and a teratogen Oh, she says, a study kills one rat and there it is labeled fetal toxin, she laughs.

"And the teratogen, what's that?" I ask. A little reproductive hazard. Again, there's that one dead rat.

I ask about the cleanup and she says they've dug up 200,000 lbs. of contaminated soil and are four feet down. I'm concerned about the level of the ground water which is around four to five feet in this neck of the woods and also is tidally influenced, meaning a hole full of something will rise and fall with the tide and is linked with the bay. Always, I am one highly suspicious woman.

Later in the day, I sit listening to the rolling thunder and finally get out of the truck to track where it is coming from. Well, it's not the eastern sky, it's just one old flare flowing noise and fire.

<< Previous entry