Agent Orange: The Chemical Terror of Vietnam
Dow was one of the principal manufacturers of Agent Orange, an herbicide used by the US military to deprive the Vietnamese resistance of forest cover and food crops. Nearly 21 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed over Vietnam during the war, (1) and in concentrations far more intense than anything allowed in the United States. (2) Although Agent Orange is itself a poison, the formulation dumped over Vietnam was also severely contaminated with dioxin – one of the most toxic chemicals ever studied. Dow and other suppliers were aware of the contamination, but kept it secret from the US Government. (3) While a miniscule amount of dioxin is enough to cause serious health effects in humans, we now know that the US military dumped the equivalent of 600 kilograms of pure dioxin over Vietnam. (4)
The result was predictable, and devastating. Entire regions of Vietnam remain so highly contaminated that children–an estimated 500,000 thus far–are being born with serious congenital deformities to this day (read more in The Guardian). A path-breaking 2003 study by Columbia University estimates that “at least 2.1 million but perhaps as many as 4.8 million people would have been present during the spraying.” (5) A 2002 study by The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found elevated levels of TCDD (the most toxic chemical in the dioxin family) in 95% of blood samples taken from residents living in Bien Hoa City, more than 30 years after spraying was stopped. (6)
Agent Orange deformations
© Philip Jones Griffiths
In January of 2004, a prominent group of Agent Orange victims and supporters, including Vietnam’s former Vice President, formed the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (see the Mercury News). Shortly thereafter, the group filed the first-ever lawsuit in the United States seeking compensation for the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. The lawsuit sought reparations from thirty-seven American companies, including Dow (see the Associated Press, BBC and Reuters). Although the lawsuit was dismissed on March 10th, 2005, the victims have promised to appeal.
Meanwhile, a petition to the US Government seeking justice for the victims of Agent Orange, initiated by the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, has already collected nearly 700,000 signatures from around the world. You can add yours here.
……….• The Fund for Reconciliation and Development maintains an excellent and highly-recommended site, including information and resources for action.
……….• The Collectif Vietnam Dioxine based in France, is also active in organizing support for the people of Vietnam.
……….• The Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, based in the US, is supporting Vietnamese civilians and US veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
……….• See also the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange.
……….• Testiminals from Agent Orange victims are available on the testimonials page.
……….• The 60-minute documentary Battle’s Poison Cloud is available from Students for Bhopal.
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Agent Orange: A Veteran’s Nightmare
I would sit high up on a hill, just high enough so that I could relish the splendid beauty that was Vietnam. I never saw the danger. There were real people out there, worshiping the land they lived on. It was so beautiful. So many colors of green. The fern trees were primeval. The small mountains were just covered by that green. The planes would circle back and forth, brushing and spraying the troops, the foliage, the water supply, everything. They called themselves the Ranch Hands. Ironic. They grow things on a ranch. But not these guys. They would spray and spray and spray, until they had destroyed all the beauty it took nature a lifetime to build; until there was nothing left but little scrubby bushes, and tail trees like bony fingers pointing up to the sky, and a gray-brown residue of what once was a life-filled, flourishing rain forest. Within forty-eight hours, it would look like a wasteland. Not a thing lived.
– Dave Trotter, veteran (8)
The US military was also exposed to Agent Orange, and after the war thousands of veterans found they had serious health problems associated with their exposure. At first the military tried to cover up the problem – the Air Force published three studies exonerating Agent Orange. These studies, it was later found, were altered to remove evidence that children of fliers exposed to Agent Orange were twice as likely to be born with birth defects and that the fliers themselves were sicker than controls by a ratio of 5 to 1. (7)
Now, the US Veterans’ Administration, citing numerous studies, acknowledges that Agent Orange has been linked to a number of illnesses, including various cancers, birth defects in the children of exposed veterans, leukemia and other diseases. The VA administers a program that provides benefits for veterans with illnesses linked to Agent Orange exposure.
Although the US Government enjoys sovereign immunity and could not be sued by the veterans, many veterans did sue the companies that manufactured Agent Orange and kept its toxicity secret. In 1984, Dow and other producers settled for $180 million, and created a fund that was exhausted by 1994. In 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled that veterans who became sick after the fund was exhausted were entitled to pursue their own lawsuits against the companies that had produced Agent Orange.
“Larry then was diagnosed as having chronic pancreatitis. We were told that men who have this disease were usually in their 50s and usually did not live long because there is no cure, the pain becomes so severe that most people die from shock. Because of the hospital stays, Larry could not hold down a job. But in May 1980 he did find a job and held in the pain as much as he could. At the same time, we noticed that Caroline, our daughter, was not progressing. After four days of exhaustive tests, all came back normal except for the fact there was something foreign in her blood. We were told that she had severe developmental delays.
By January 1981 Larry’s health grew worse. His gall bladder was removed and an exploratory laparotomy was done. Recovery from this surgery was very slow and never complete. On the first day back to work, he was told that his insurance had been canceled. On the following day, he was told that his job had been filled in his absence and that he was no longer employed. In July 1981 we had to declare bankruptcy because of the medical bills that had accumulated. That same month Larry checked into Hines Veterans Hospital because of another pancreatitis flare-up. One of his doctors did come out and say, “off the record,” that a dangerous level of dioxin had been found in his blood.
Attica Michigan, 2004
“In November 1981 he got a job as a security officer. He worked until February 1982, when his health grew even worse. On March 24, he called me at work and asked me to take him to the hospital. When I reached home, he was doubled over in pain. By Friday morning, the situation had become critical. He was now totally on a respirator. I wanted to stay with him, but he told me to go home and take care of the kids. At 5 P.M. the doctors called and said they needed consent for emergency surgery. I got to the hospital just as they were taking Larry down. He was in very critical condition. About forty-five minutes later, the doctor came to me and said Larry never made it to surgery. His heart had stopped and they could not revive him. He was 29 years old.”
– Monica Boeke, veteran’s widow (9)
Soldiers from other countries also fought in the war, and were afflicted by Agent Orange. Veterans from Canada, Australia and New Zealand participated in the lawsuit against Agent Orange manufacturers, and collected a portion of the settlement, but Vietnam Veterans from South Korea have not yet received any compensation. During the course of the war, 320,000 Korean soldiers fought in Vietnam, sustaining 16,000 injuries and 5,000 deaths. An estimated 100,000 South Korean veterans are suffering from Agent Orange-related illnesses. In January 2006, a South Korean court ordered Dow and Monsanto to pay $62 million in medical compensation to 6,800 people; Dow has vowed to appeal the decision, and more cases are pending.
|Cho Pan-chul, 57, a South Korean Kyungnam University graduate, stayed in Vietnam for 22 months through August 1972. It wasn’t until 1974 when he started feeling sick. Mr. Cho suffered from stomach pains, gastric ulcers and inflammation of his stomach lining as well as neuralgia and dental decay. By the time when he was in his early 40s he had all 32 teeth pulled out.
Skin diseases started occurring for many soldiers who participated in the war four to five years after they were in Vietnam, but they only discovered that these were caused by Agent Orange much later. Mr. Cho also suffered chronic fatigue and skin conditions such as adult acne, which grew on his face and back, giving off a watery discharge. The acne was so serious that he even needed surgery.
Mr. Cho was married in 1977 and had a daughter a year later, but he lost the next two sons because both were born without a brain. A gynecologist told him that the abnormalities were probably caused by mutations in his sex chromosomes. His third son died of a brain infarction when he was three. Later Mr. Cho had a second daughter in 1982 and son, who is healthy, in 1989.
Among his many diseases, only three of have been recognized as caused by Agent Orange: diabetes, high blood fat and seborrheic dermatitis. In 1999, Mr. Cho was registered as suffering from what are suspected to be Agent Orange related symptoms.
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Contamination Begins at Home
|Dioxin is among the most toxic compounds ever studied. Dioxin is harmful to life in miniscule amounts and has been linked by experts to endometriosis, immune system impairment, diabetes, neurotoxicity, birth defects, decreased fertility, testicular atrophy and reproductive dysfunction, and cancer. Dioxin can affect insulin, thyroid and steroid hormones, threatening the development of all human newborns. For more information about dioxin and Dow’s disreputable history with it in Midland, see the excellent DioxinSpin website.
Dow’s factories at its global headquarters in Midland, MI, have contaminated the entire region, including the Tittabawassee River floodplains, with stratospheric levels of dioxin.
Testing by the state Department of Environmental Quality have found dioxin levels as high as 100,000 parts per trillion TEQ – more than a thousand times the state residential cleanup standard of 90 ppt. (10)
The state has warned residents to “Avoid allowing children to play in soils. Wash hands and any other exposed body surfaces after any soil contact. Do not eat unwashed foods from your garden. Do not engage in any other activities that may introduce soil into the mouth. Keep soil moist to control dust. Remove footwear before entering the house. Store all used gardening clothing outdoors.” (11)
Demanding Dow clean up
The swathe of dioxin contamination extends twenty-two miles downstream from the Dow plant. Shortly after it first became public, in November 2001, Dow and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality attempted to work out a sweetheart deal in which the DEQ would “solve” the problem by raising the state dioxin cleanup standard tenfold. This attempt was thwarted by outraged community members, environmentalists, and the EPA.
Tittabawassee floodplain residents – numbering 179 – filed a suit seeking reparations from Dow for jeopardizing their health and devaluing their property. Although the medical monitoring portion of their claim was struck down by the Michigan Supreme Court, a Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge recently ruled that the suit can proceed with class action status, which could include as many as 2,000 property owners. Although Dow has put away $54 million for the cleanup, an analysis commissioned by the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center in 2004 said costs could exceed $300 million.
……….• The most authoritative site is maintained by the Tittabawassee River Watch, a highly-recommended resource. Another local resource is www.mdn-rejected.com.
……….• Also see the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
……….• More information is available from the Michigan Department of Community Health.
……….• Testimonials from Michigan dioxin victims are available on the testimonials page.
……….• Watch this excellent 5-minute documentary on Dow’s attempts to weasel away from responsibility!
……….• The 90-minute documentaryThe Long Shadow is available from Students for Bhopal.
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Of Mass Sterility and Nemagon
Dow and three other companies continued to produce and export the extremely hazardous pesticide DBCP, sold under the name of Nemagon and Fumazone, to developing countries for years after it was banned in the US in 1979. The US ban occurred after DBCP was linked to human sterility in California.
The companies knew since at least the 1960s that the product caused male sterility in rats, and even speculated that DBCP could be a male contraceptive. However they concealed this information. An “internal and confidential” report on DBCP from the Dow Chemical Company Biochemical Research Laboratory dated July 23, 1958 reads: “Testicular atrophy may result from prolonged repeated exposure. A tentative hygiene standard of 1 part per million is suggested.” However, Dow did not reduce exposures to the chemical, and neglected to report findings of reduced sperm and atrophied testicles of rabbits and monkeys when they submitted information for registration and labeling. It wasn’t until 1977, when 35 of 114 workers at a DBCP production plant in California were found to be sterile, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) levied strict regulations of the chemical. One worker in a Dow manufacturing plant said, “After telling me that I shouldn’t worry about anything out there because it can’t hurt me, now to find out that I’m sterile from it, their answer was, don’t worry about that because you can always adopt children.” (12)
When DBCP was first marketed in developing countries, it had no labels warning that it was extremely toxic and no instructions on the use of safety equipment. “We sprayed without any protections,” says José Antonio Rodríguez Pineda, a banana worker who was employed at the San Carlos plantation in El Viejo. “We worked in shorts because it was so muddy, without any protection on our feet or hands.” Francisco Gonzáles believes he lost his chance to be a father because of the pesticide DBCP. “I can’t have children,” says Gonzáles, who began working in the banana plantations of Chinandega, Nicaragua, in 1975, when he was 20 years old. “It’s very painful, you know, each one of us would like to have our own child, a child of our blood. But I was poisoned.” In El Viejo and other villages in Nicaragua’s banana-growing province of Chinandega today, DBCP is called “Death’s Dew.”
Jose Alberto Paniagua, 24, was born disabled and voiceless with a gaze permanently haunted by a look of terror. Jose’s father and mother both worked at a plantation which used Nemagon
Widespread use of DBCP on banana plantations around the world has caused the permanent sterility of thousands of workers. One study found that approximately 20-25% of the male working population in banana plantations on Costa Rica’s Atlantic coast, where workers had mixed DBCP by hand, were sterilized. DBCP is also believed to cause miscarriages, birth defects, liver damage and cancer when inhaled or absorbed by the skin, and an estimated 22,000 Nicaraguans suffer from Nemagon-caused diseases and disability. This has created a great deal of liability for the companies responsible – primarily Dow, Shell, and Dole. In a 1997 settlement, the four companies that produced the chemical (Dow, Shell, Occidental and Amvac) agreed to pay $41.5 million to 26,000 banana workers in 11 countries. (13)
However several other lawsuits continue. On December 11, 2002, a Nicaraguan court concluded that Dow, Shell, and Dole should pay $489.4 million to 486 banana workers. The companies have refused to pay and, led by Dole, they counter-sued the claimants for fraud and asked for $17 billion in damages.
Altogether the number of pending DBCP-related lawsuits has grown to 295 in Nicaragua, representing a total of 6,544 plaintiffs and damages worth more than $11 billion. Similar legal actions have also been raised in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Guatemala, and the Philippines, where Dow, Dole and others were named in a $4 billion DBCP action involving 35,000 individuals, which was thrown out in 2002 on appeal.
Thousands march against Nemagon and Dow
Dow is trying to kill this burgeoning liability. According to The New York Times, Dow, Dole, and Shell hired lobbyists to encourage the Bush administration to help annul Law 364, a Nicaraguan law that makes it easier for farm workers to sue for DBCP compensation. Secretary of State Colin Powell was reported to have intervened with Nicaragua’s foreign minister over this issue. Revelations of this interference in the Nicaraguan press prompted a massive protest of banana workers–several thousand strong–who marched on the capital and demanded that the government resist US pressure. Subsequently both the Nicaraguan government and the Supreme Court have backed Law 364, leading Dow and Shell, in January 2004, to ask a federal court in California to declare future rulings in Nicaraguan courts under the law “unenforceable” in the United States courts. See this excellent overview in Corpwatch, and this article in the Miami Herald.
More recently, in April of 2005, former banana workers in Nicaragua won the right to present their case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee after more than one thousand DBCP victims staged a month-long protest – including hunger strikes, threats to burn themselves alive, and the occupation of the Human Rights Ombudsman office – in Managua.
……….• These two campaign websites are a wealth of information (Spanish): nemagon.info and Rel-UITA.
……….• For the latest updates, check with the Nicaragua Network.
……….• More information is also available at US/Labor Education in the Americas Project
……….• Also see Bananalink.
……….• Testimonials from Nemagon victims are available on the testimonials page.
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Chemical Trespass: The Dow In You
Every person alive today has synthetic chemicals running through their veins. (14) Many of these chemicals did not even exist before WW II. A good number have been produced by Dow. Its chemicals are collecting in our fatty tissue and confusing our hormone systems. Much of our food contains pesticide residues. Other chemicals are sprayed on fields or gardens and enter the air, soil and water. So chemicals enter our bodies when we eat, breath and drink.
In 2003 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) undertook the most extensive study to date of pesticides and industrial chemicals in the bodies of people across the US. The scientists looked for just 116 of the thousands of chemicals in modern use and they found all 116 of these chemicals the blood and urine of the random people they tested. One of these, chlorpyrifos (also known as Dursban), was found in 93% of the American population, and a 2004 study by the Pesticide Action Network North America, Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability, quantifies this contamination and concludes that Dow is responsible for 80% of the U.S. population’s chlorpyrifos body burden. It is estimated that there are 700 contaminants in each of us. (15) Of up to 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides used each year in the US; no one knows exactly how many end up in our bodies or what the long term effects of exposure might be. Virtually nothing is understood of how these chemicals interact with each other inside our bodies.
Scientists have already discovered that potential harm from exposure to some individual chemicals ranges from reduced fertility and developmental damage in our unborn children to neurological disorders and cancers. Even exposure to miniscule amounts of some chemicals can be harmful, especially to infants and children whose bodies are developing quickly and taking in much more food, water, air and chemicals per pound of body weight than adults. The pesticide residues and other chemicals are in our food, our cosmetics and our pets’ flea collars. They are in the water we drink and the air we breathe. They are even present in breast milk and mothers’ wombs. (16)
In a July 2005 study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.
……….• More information is available at www.chemicalbodyburden.org.
……….• The CHE Toxicant and Disease Database is a one-stop shop which compiles all the latest research between chemicals and the human health effects they cause.
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Of Silicone and Leaking Breasts
After women started complaining about silicone breast implants leaking their jelly-like goo into their bodies and causing a variety of health effects, Dow subsidiary Dow Corning employed its time-tested spiel that the implants were “100 percent safe.”
However in the 1990s several juries ruled otherwise, deciding that Dow Chemical and Dow Corning conspired to deceive women with breast implants about the health effects of silicone products. Although Dow Chemical maintained that the implants were the sole responsibility of subsidiary Dow Corning, several juries found Dow Chemical itself liable. This led to a 1998 settlement in which Dow Corning and Dow Chemical paid $3.2 billion to cover claims associated with silicon implants among 170,000 women. (17) The sum was so large that Dow Corning was forced to file for bankruptcy protection.
……….• The Implant Veterans of Toxic Exposure maintain an excellent site that features a number of internal Dow documents.
……….• Another great site is Info-Implants Mammaires.
……….• Also see the Coalition of Silicone Survivors.
……….• More information is also available at Life After Breast Implants.
……….• This survey documents the health effects that women exposed to silicon breast implants experienced over time.
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Of Napalm and Burning Children
The dreaded Napalm that was used by the US military to burn civilians and soldiers alike in the Vietnam War was a Dow innovation. The jelly-like chemical, when sprayed over people, would burn them on contact. This Life photograph of a naked child running down a street in Vietnam screaming in agony captures the effects of Napalm. Nick Ut’s photograph of Kim Phuk, taken in 1972, won the Pulitzer Prize (© Associated Press).
Extolling the virtues of the “back room boys” or the innovators at Dow, a Vietnam veteran is attributed with this perverse but technically illuminating quote about the development of Napalm:
“We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow. The original product wasn’t so hot — if the gooks [Vietnamese] were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene — now it sticks like shit to a blanket. But then if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (white phosphorus) so’s to make it burn better. It’ll burn under water now. And just one drop is enough; it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorus poisoning.” (18)
However Dow’s President at the time, Herbert D. Doan, described Napalm as “a good weapon for saving lives,” claiming further that “It is a strategic weapon essential to the pursuit of the tactic we are engaged in without exorbitant loss of American lives.” Novelist Robert Crichton, writing in the New York Review of Books, could have been responding directly to Doan when he wrote that “the justification for this behavior . . .lies in the words ‘saving American lives.’ Any action can be condoned, any excess tolerated, any injustice justified, if it can be made to fit this formula. The excessive valuation on American life, over any other life, accounts for the weapons and tactics we feel entitled to use.”
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Dursban: A Universal Poison
Chlorpyrifos, marketed by Dow as Dursban, is well known as a home and garden insect spray; until 2000 it was the most widely used household pesticide in the US. (19) The pesticide is also a nerve toxin and suspected endocrine disruptor with the potential to alter and interfere with the hormonal systems of insects, wildlife, and people. Since the 1960s, chlorpyrifos has made thousands of people sick each year in the US. (20) It causes neurological damage to children and can result in blurred vision, fatigue, muscle weakness, memory loss and depression. It has been associated with carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and acute toxicity. (21)
In 1995, Dow was fined $732,000 for not sending the EPA reports it had received on 249 Dursban poisoning incidents. In June 2000, as a result of pressure from environmental and public health organizations, including the EPA, Dow withdrew registration of chlorpyrifos for use in homes and other places where children could be exposed, and severely restricted its use on crops. The company, however, continues to market Dursban in industrializing countries, including India, where Dow’s sales literature claimed Dursban has “an established record of safety regarding humans and pets.” (22) In 2003, tests conducted by Delhi NGO Centre for Science and Environment for pesticide residues in Indian cans of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola revealed levels of chlorpyrifos exceeding EU drinking water standards.
In 2003, Dow agreed to pay $2 million – the largest penalty ever in a pesticide case – to the state of New York, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General to end Dow’s illegal advertising of Dursban as “safe”.
In 1998, Dow tested Dursban on 60 paid recruits at a lab in Lincoln, Nebraska. Dow also fed Dursban to inmates at Clinton Correctional Institute, New York, in 1972 to assess its effects on humans. (23)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently reported on the testing of 9,282 people nationwide for “body burdens” of hazardous or dangerous chemicals. The study found that 93% of the US population has levels of chlorpyrifos metabolites, or breakdown products, in their bodies. The average tested child aged 6-11 was found to have exposure to the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos at four times the level the US Environmental Protection Agency considers acceptable for long-term exposure. One market analysis (Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability by the Pesticide Action Network North America) concluded that Dow Chemical was likely to have contributed at least 80% of the chlorpyrifos exposure in the United States. Although all residential uses of chlorpyrifos were phased out beginning in 2000, agricultural and industrial uses are still allowed.
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A Dangerous Neighbor
The Dow Chemical Company puts nearly 8 million people living near its U.S. plants at risk for injury or death in the event of an accident or terrorist attack, according to an analysis by U.S. PIRG. Dow Chemical had 2,562 accidents between 1990 and 2003, including 85 accidents involving rail transport. Dow is an industry leader when it comes to accidents, ranking higher in sheer number than all other members of the American Chemistry Council since 1990 with the exception of BP. Luckily, many of these accidents did not result in major fatalities, but the potential for disaster at a Dow-owned facility remains very real.
Its emissions are also spectacular: more than 16 million pounds of hazardous chemicals in 2002, according to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory. This includes many potent carcinogens: in 2000, Dow ranked 6th in the nation for the release of cancer-causing chemicals, dumping more than 2 million pounds into the nation’s air and water. In the same year Dow released more dioxin–a spectacularly dangerous and hazardous chemical–than any other parent company in the nation: a full 1457 grams.
In July 2006, the EPA cited Dow, claiming clean-air violations, and filed an administrative complaint against the company claiming that Dow violated its chemical release reporting requirements at the company’s Midland, Mich., facility.
EPA alleges that Dow violated the Clean Air Act by failing to comply with national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants. Specifically, EPA said the company violated testing, operating, monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting and notification requirements. In addition, EPA alleges Dow has exceeded emission and other limits. In an unrelated action, EPA has filed an administrative complaint against Dow for failure to comply with the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
The company has been cited for failure to file the required chemical release forms for the 2,4-D butoxyethyl ester during calendar years 2000, 2001 and 2002. Dow was also cited for underreporting the volume of chloromethane and propylene oxide released from the facility during calendar years 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Meanwhile Dow’s accidents and releases have threatened the lives and health of people throughout the nation. In November, 2001, a chemical spill in Dow’s Texas City marine facility sent 15 citizens to the hospital, at the same time that the company was threatening to pull out of the community’s safety program because it was miffed with the city’s political leadership (see the AFL-CIO report). Other recent accidents and releases have put Dow’s neighbors in Sarnia, Canada, Freeport, Texas, Clute, Texas, and Midland, Michigan at risk. And a recent ranking of the worst air polluters in the nation puts Dow Chemical in the top ten in terms of the volume of chemicals released, the relative toxicity of the different chemicals and the number of people at risk.
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Toxic Waste Sites
As of December 2000, the EPA has named Dow or Union Carbide as a Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) under federal or state Superfund laws at a combined 136 hazardous waste sites. (24) In 2002, Dow Chemical estimated its Superfund liability at $394 million. Records from the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado – which was operated until 1975 by the Dow Chemical Company – indicate that some workers absorbed so much plutonium that the chromosomes of their blood cells became deformed; 13 workers have died of cancer. (25) As of 2000, a total of 50,000 Coloradoans have joined in a $550 million lawsuit against Dow and Rockwell International, the other co-operator of the plant. (26) Attorney Merrill Davidoff, speaking on behalf of the victims, said that Dow, Rockwell, and the US Department of Energy still refuse to account publicly for 2,600 pounds of radioactive plutonium that went missing from Rocky Flats during the 37 years the plant made nuclear weapons. “The releases and contamination began under Dow, continued under Rockwell, persist to the present, and will continue into the indefinite future, as the result of operational and waste-storage practices that Dow and Rockwell conducted intentionally, and which have led and will lead to offsite releases of plutonium and the contamination of area properties.”
In the 1940’s, Union Carbide dumped nearly 50 million gallons of radioactive effluents (equivalent to nearly 13 seconds of full flow over the American side of Niagara Falls) into the ground at Tonawanda, New York, and from there it drained into local aquifers and the Niagara River. In the 1960’s and 1970’s they also buried 505 tons of material containing 9,212 pounds of uranium oxide and 1,293 pounds of thorium oxide 20 feet under the earth near Niagara Falls Boulevard. This material has never been recovered and disposed of, and no one knows exactly where it is to this day.
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Vinyl Chloride Conspiracies
According to their own documents, Dow Chemical and other corporations conspired since the early 1960’s to conceal the grave danger that vinyl chloride exposure posed to their own workers. Testing conducted in 1959 on rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs at Dow Chemical’s Biochemical Research Laboratory revealed the danger. Adverse effects on the liver were seen in animals that had inhaled only 100 parts per million of vinyl chloride, a fraction of the concentration to which many workers were exposed. In a letter to the B.F. Goodrich Chemical Co.’s industrial hygiene director on May 12, 1959, one of the Dow scientists, V.K. Rowe, outlined the experimental findings and concluded that vinyl chloride could produce “rather appreciable injury” among workers routinely exposed to 500 parts per million, then the voluntary standard. Rowe ended his letter by stating: ” … this opinion is not ready for dissemination yet and I would appreciate it if you would hold it in confidence … ”
Rowe’s plea for confidentiality was hardly needed. According to Jim Morris of the Houston Chronicle, the industry’s own documents “depict a framework of dubious science and painstaking public relations, coordinated by the industry’s main trade association with two dominant themes: Avoid disclosure and deny liability.” The chemical companies were hiding the fact that they had “subjected at least two generations of workers to excessive levels of a potent carcinogen that targets the liver, brain, lungs and blood-forming organs.”
And while the documents show that the industry freely shared health information among themselves, “the companies were evasive with their own employees and the government,” wrote Morris. “They were unwilling to disrupt the growing market for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, used in everything from pipe to garden hoses.” However it wasn’t until 2001 that a 90-minute special by PBS and Bill Moyers, “Trade Secrets“, brought the culpability of the chemical industry to the attention of the public at large.
“It’s all about money,” Ray Reynolds, the Vista chairman of Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Local 4-555, concluded. “All these years, I believe, they’ve been killing people, but they’ve put a dollar figure on it.”
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In “Dow’s Union Workers–The Forgotten Stakeholders,” the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO compiles a devastating record of Dow’s union-busting activity over almost half a century. “In the 1960s and early 70s,” the report says, “Dow officials reacted strongly to a series of strikes and began to develop a company-wide policy to combat union activity through an opportunistic ‘divide and conquer’ system that has evolved into what the company today refers to as its ‘Basic Principles of Salaried Operations.’ That policy, which remains largely unchanged today, is designed to induce workers to dump union representation by dangling a package of ‘rewards’ that include pay increases of as little as 40 cents, a strict autocratic ‘command and control’ management structure and special parking privileges.
“Other recent incidents highlight different dimensions of the company’s crass disregard for workers and citizens. Dow is one of dozens of Fortune 500 companies routinely purchasing so-called ‘dead peasant‘ insurance on its workers. In another case, Dow won a Texas Supreme Court decision that found the company has no legal duty to assure the job safety of an independent contractor. Dow also pioneered the tactic of setting up ex-employees in contracting businesses to provide an alternative workforce, often paying considerably more to get tasks completed, but creating doubt and uncertainty among its own personnel about their future job security.”
That insecurity seems justified given Dow’s current “restructuring” plan, launched in 2003, which has led to widespread layoffs, pay cuts, and losses through attrition and plant shutdowns. In April of 2004, Dow announced that 3,000 more jobs, or about 7% of its workforce, would go as the company continued its “restructuring.” These included job losses in Freeport, Texas and Kanawha Valley, where one worker, Stanley Stricker, a 30-year employee at the plant, said “We haven’t slept easy since this damn outfit [Dow] took over. These people sold their souls, they made a deal with the devil. They’re just canning people and saying, ‘This is the way it has to be.'”
Nor are workers in Dow’s own hometown of Midland, Michigan, immune from Dow’s crusade against unions and workers. Under a newly-ratified, eight-year contract, nearly 20 percent of Dow’s workers are facing pay cuts so severe that their families could lose their middle class status and slip into poverty. “I would never say this is a good contract,” said Kent Holsing, president of the United Steelworkers Local 12075, which represents 961 employees. “What I would say is that this is the best possible contract we could get. It was gut-wrenching.” Terri Johnson, the public affairs leader at Dow’s Michigan Operations, expressed things a different way: “[Dow is] extremely pleased with the outcome of this vote.”
Meanwhile Dow’s CEO, William Stavropoulos, must also be pleased. He was awarded a $2.3 million bonus in 2003, on top of a $1.3 million base salary and millions more in other incentives and benefits, according to the company’s proxy statement. Kenny Perdue, secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO, responded by saying that the bonus “Flies in the face of the workers. …The workers are out there doing their jobs, trying to keep their pay and benefits and feed their families and the CEO is awarded a $2.3 million bonus that in his own mind he believes he’s worth,” Perdue said. “And all along the company is laying off workers. Why couldn’t the company use some of this bonus to keep workers?”
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“First, do no harm”, the Hippocratic oath taken by nearly everyone in the medical profession, has never been a mantra at Dow. Their fervent support for the human testing of their poisonous products–testing that has no potential of helping and every probability of harming the health of paid test subjects–undermines everything that the Hippocratic Oath stands for. At issue is the safety standard that the US EPA currently employs to protect us from pesticide exposure: a level of harm is established for animals, and then that level, divided by a safety factor of ten, becomes the standard used by the EPA. That factor-of-ten cushion is a source of irritation to the chemical companies that produce and market pesticides, including Dow, and they’ve been pressing the EPA to recognize the results of human testing–which seem likely to result in looser pesticide standards.
It’s worth noting that Dow is putting its money where its mouth is. Dow has conducted at least five human studies with pesticides since the 1970s (27) – including a 1998 study in Nebraska that recruited college students through an ad in the school newspaper urging students to “earn extra money“. That they did by calling 402-474-PAYS, signing a seven-page consent form and popping a pill loaded with the active ingredient in Raid roach spray, Dursban. Dursban, a nerve-gas derivative found to cause neurological damage in children, was withdrawn from household use by the EPA in 1999. Dow AgroSciences paid the test subjects $460 each. In 1971, Dow tested chlorpyrifos on inmates at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York, (28) and in 1965, Dow conducted dioxin tests on inmates at the Holmesburg Prison in Pennsylvania. (29)
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Dow and Union Carbide are both (see SHAC and CARN-AGE) former customers of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), one of the most vile and infamous animal testing companies. Huntingdon has been the target of five undercover investigations, videotapes from which have exposed HLS staff punching and violently shaking beagle puppies, performing a dissection of a live monkey, transplanting a frozen pig’s heart into a baboon and breaking numerous animal welfare laws. These investigations have resulted in the convictions of HLS employees for animal cruelty, fines by the USDA, and the near-closure of Huntingdon by the British government (see this site for more information, and SHAC for more about the campaign against Huntingdon).
Dow continues to test its chemicals on animals, often in needless or duplicative tests. In a letter dated June 25, 2004, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, the Doris Day Animal League, and Earth Island Institute–five organizations with a combined membership of more than 10 million Americans–all objected to Dow’s callous violation of animal testing protocols. PETA writes that “Dow has so little regard for the public’s comments on its test plans that it violated a basic tenet of the HPV [high production volume, a chemical testing protocol] program and went ahead with its plans for the proposed animal tests even before the public-comment period was over! The agreement, signed by all HPV participants, calls for them to post their plans for testing on a Web site for 120 days and to consider all public comments before proceeding. In violation of the HPV animal welfare agreement, Dow decided to use a test that kills 1,350 animals to test the chemical 2,3,4,5,6-pentachloropyridine, even though the company could easily have used another test that kills half as many animals. Even the EPA recommended that the alternative test be used. And even though the public-comment period on this plan expired on August 25, 2003, the study using 1,350 animals was already underway in early September. In fact, the animals had already been ordered for the study when Dow submitted its test plan for public comment in March 2003.”
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Of Biotechnology and Frankenfood
In 1998, Dow announced that it would begin “pursuing long-term, value-added growth opportunities through biotechnology.” (30) Today, Dow, led by its subsidiary Dow AgroSciences, is a major player in agricultural biotechnology. Dow’s patents on plant biotechnology rank in the top five of all corporations worldwide, (31) with product lines that include Mycogen Seeds, Phytogen, Bt corn and Atlas Roundup Ready soybeans. Mycogen, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow, focuses on a number of different crops, including alfalfa, corn, sorghum, soybean, sunflower, as well as animal feed crops. Mycogen’s purchase of Illinois Foundation Seeds provided Dow with about 12 percent of the U.S. corn seed market; the company also owns Wisconsin-based Agrigenetics and Brazil’s Dinamilho Carol Productos Agricolas, Hibridos Colorado Seed, and FT Biogenetica de Milho.
In 1998, Dow formed a new company, Advanced Agri-Traits, to coordinate strategic alliances for the biotech industry. Dow has also formed many alliances of its own with major biotech players both here and abroad. Dow’s Mycogen division and DuPont’s Pioneer Seed division are jointly marketing seed corn varieties with the B.t. gene under the Herculex label. In 2002, Dow AgroSciences signed an agreement with Monsanto to allow extensive collaboration in the field of biotechnology, (32) and Dow/Mycogen jointly developed herbicide tolerant crops with Rhone Poulenc (now Bayer). Dow and Performance Plants, a biotech company, have a deal to develop GE varieties of canola, sunflower, peanuts, cotton, and silage corn. Dow is also pursuing industrial and pharmaceutical biotechnology applications. Dow AgroSciences has invested $20 million in SemBioSys Genetics Inc. for the development of drugs, vaccines, industrial and feed products from canola. (33) Dow is also collaborating with San Diego-based EPICyte to produce human antibodies in genetically engineered plants.
Along with Monsanto and Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences is rushing to introduce its brand of GM cotton, called “Widestrike,” into West Africa. With the support of USAID, the three companies are finalizing plans with the Malian government to convert the West African country’s cotton —its number-one export crop—to transgenic varieties over the next five years. Under the terms of the draft agreement, field tests of imported transgenic Bt cotton will begin in 2004. The plan is being negotiated without consultation with Malian cotton farmers, those most at risk from the impending conversion to GM technology. In the West African context there is simply no way to guarantee that transgenic cotton, once it is introduced, will not contaminate the conventional cotton supply. Read more in Corpwatch.
Recently, Cargill-Dow introduced its NatureWorks line of fleece that uses genetically-engineered corn as a material replacement for plastic. Cargill-Dow claims they are attempting to find alternate sources of non-genetically engineered materials, such as straw. Until then however, they are already producing even more products from GE corn, including carpeting, wall panels, upholsty, interior furnishings, outdoor fabrics, and plastics like those used to wrap CDs and golf balls. There were also discussions with Bed, Bath & Beyond to produce a line called “Natural Balance”, which included pillows, comforters and mattress pads made from this material. Read more in Corpwatch.
In 2002, Dow AgroSciences was fined $8,800 by the EPA for not isolating a field trial of insect-resistant corn properly to prevent cross-contamination. The field trial, which took place in Hawaii, was initially conducted without the approval of the EPA, because the company felt that it had met federal regulations. (34) Also in 2002, Dow contributed nearly US $400,000 to the Alliance for Better Foods’ US $5 million advertising blitz to defeat Oregon’s Proposition 27, a ballot initiative to label genetically modified foods. Opponents outspent supporters 61 to 1. (35)
In January 2006, Dow and Monsanto agreed to share patented technology for developing genetically altered crops. The deal allows Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences to share patented genes in different strains of corn, soybeans and cotton.
For an overview of agricultural biotechnology and its impacts, see PANNA’s online presentation, “Genetically Engineered Crops and Foods”.
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Hawks Nest Tunnel
In the 1930s the Hawks Nest Tunnel in West Virginia swallowed up 2000 lives, mostly African-American workers who died of silicosis. Some were buried in mass graves to try to hide the deaths. It was Union Carbide’s first experience of mass killing.
The West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly writes that “The tunnel was of singular importance to the expanding Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation, which was developing the technology and markets for a whole new world of alloyed metals, chemicals and plastics. …Rumors circulated wildly about the number of men dying. Some were dumped in the river bed and covered with the tunnel rock. Others were transported to Nicholas County and buried unceremoniously on a private farm. Pneumonia was given as the cause of death in most instances. In May, the Chief of the State Department of Mines began an investigation of working conditions on the tunnel project. According to the Fayette Tribune, the investigation was ‘precipitated by an unusual number of deaths . . . through accidents and disease’ and the death rate was ‘high, especially among colored workers.’”
Union Carbide, operating the Hawk’s Nest mine with the same safety standards that would lead to the Bhopal tragedy decades later, chose not to issue dust masks or to wet the site to reduce workers’ danger of contracting silicosis. While an estimated two thousand workers died of the disease, the company suppressed medical information about the causal relationship between inhaled silica dust and the illness and paid scientists to downplay the danger. In subsequent Congressional hearings a Union Carbide contractor bereft of PR packaging finally told the bald truth, saying “I knew I was going to kill (the mine workers) but I didn’t know it was going to be this soon.”
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In an investigation into endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs) on PBS’ Frontline, Dr. Frederick Vom Saal, a scientist and Professor from the University of Missouri, alleges that Dow Chemical asked him to withhold the results of a study he conducted on a chemical known as bisphenol-A. The chemical is produced by Dow and used in everything from compact discs and eyeglasses, to milk containers, baby bottles, and dental sealants. In the human body, Bisphenol-A acts like estradiol—the hormone with the clearest link to breast cancer, and one that also plays a critical role in human and animal development. The consequences of this “endocrine disruption” can be far-reaching, causing problems with reproduction, development, and behavior in wildlife and humans. In the interview, Vom Saal said that Dow “essentially asked if there were a mutually beneficial outcome that we could arrive at where I held off publishing the information about this chemical until they had repeated my studies, and after repeating my studies, approval for publication was received by all the plastic manufacturers.” More information about the experiments, as well as the industry’s subsequent attempt to undermine Vom Sall’s credibility, is available here.
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Of Bisphenol A and Mass Exposure
Dow, Bayer, and GE Plastics are the major producers of this chemical, which is used in everything from compact discs and eyeglasses to Nalgene water bottles, toys, pacifiers, baby bottles and teethers. The chemical is also used in epoxy resins that coat food cans, bottle tops and water supply pipes, and as sealants for children’s teeth for the prevention of cavities. In the human body, bisphenol-A acts like estradiol—the hormone with the clearest link to breast cancer, and one that also plays a critical role in human and animal development. The consequences of this “endocrine disruption” can be far-reaching, causing problems with reproduction, development, and behavior in wildlife and humans. Although about 2 billion pounds of bisphenol A are produced yearly in the United States, several studies have suggested that bisphenol A can leach from products under high heat and alkaline conditions. This has led to widespread exposure throughout the population, and at levels that several peer-reviewed studies suggest could be an issue of concern, particularly for pregnant women and children. The California legislature has now taken up the issue, and a new bill, AB319, would prohibit the manufacture or sale of any product intended for use by a child 3 years of age or younger, if it contains bisphenol A. If passed, California would be the first state to limit its use. Read more in this March 31st, 2005 article by the San Francisco Chronicle, and in Bisphenol A – A Known Endocrine Disruptor, a report by the World Wildlife Federation.
Update: scientists at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston suggest that bisphenol-A may be responsible for breast cancer.
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Apartheid is Just Business
During the reign of the apartheid government in South Africa, Dow continued with business-as-usual, supplying it with herbicidal chemicals to render the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe infertile. These actions have led to a $71 million lawsuit, filed in New York, by farmers who claim that their lands remain infertile. (36)
Separately, in October 2003, a New York lawyer filed a case against five companies, including Dow and Union Carbide, accusing them of defrauding South African workers during the Apartheid era. (37)
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DDT, a deadly pesticide, is one of the twelve Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) slated for elimination under the Stockholm Convention. Its use was first implicated as a cause of egg-shell thinning and human cancer by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring, but the EPA didn’t ban DDT until 1972. American manufacture of DDT began in 1939, shortly after its potency as a pesticide was discovered. DDT is an endocrine disrupter, affects the nervous system and can cause liver damage, and remains in the environment for long periods of time. (38) Dow was a major producer of the chemical, which was used widely and indiscriminately for decades. In the photograph at the right, taken in 1945, bathers at Jones Beach, New York, race through clouds of DDT. The sign reads “D.D.T. Powerful insecticide harmless to humans. Applied by Todd Insect Fog Applicators. Nausau County Extermination Comm. L.I. State Park Comm.” The photo was published in National Geographic’s Swim Suits: 100 Years of Pictures, April 28, 2003.
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In January 2002, Dow settled a case brought against its subsidiary Union Carbide by workers exposed to asbestos in the workplace. The case was filed before Dow’s acquisition of Carbide; however, as Carbide’s new owner, Dow had to reach a settlement in the case. Additionally, the company has set aside $2.2 billion to address future liabilities. Dow also has claims levied directly against it for personal injury related to asbestos exposure on various Dow premises. In a recent legal twist, Kelly-Moore Paint Company, a frequent defendant in asbestos cases, filed a $6 billion lawsuit against Union Carbide and Dow for allegedly not telling KM about the risks involved in using asbestos-containing products. A California company, Hamilton Materials, has also sued Union Carbide and Dow Chemical, claiming they conspired to hide the dangers of asbestos supplied to the company for use in its products. The HM suit asks for $100 million in compensation for personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits filed against the company due to its use of a Union Carbide asbestos product called Calidria. More information about Carbide’s mounting asbestos liabilities is available in this excellent series (one and two) by the Los Angeles Times.
Joe Derabrant, dying from asbestos
How has Dow reacted to all this asbestos liability? By trying to wriggle out of it, of course. Dow and other corporations facing massive asbestos liability have been lobbying Congress forcefully for the last two years to create a national asbestos trust fund to settle all claims. Although this may sound innocuous, it’s actually a huge giveaway to the corporations currently in the dock over their asbestos liabilities. Not only would the trust fund erase the Chapter 11 (bankruptcy) proceedings facing any corporation that contributes to the fund, but the value of those trust fund contributions would be a lot less than what the companies are expected to pay now. In fact, the savings amount to about 79 percent according to Public Citizen, or a total of $20 billion. The companies created the innocuous-sounding Asbestos Study Group, which spent about $27 million between in 2003 and 2004 to lobby Congress for the liability loophole. (The ASG refuses to make its membership list public, which doesn’t help the shadiness factor.) Meanwhile, about 10,000 Americans die from asbestos-related causes every year, according to the Environmental Working Group.
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Of War and Treason
Dow has been a regular supplier to and has profited handsomely from military contracts since its founding. In WWI, Dow supplied numerous chemicals for the war effort, including picric acid and monochlorobenzol, used in making explosives, and gas warfare agents including phosgene and mustard gas. The Army assigned a unit of doughboys to Midland to work with Dow chemists to learn how to handle lethal mustard gas. The unit suffered several casualties and two fatalities in the process. (39)
In WWII, Dow also played a key role in supplying phenol for use in explosives, and incendiary bombs, among other products. Union Carbide also profited. A few days after August 6 the War Department published the following Statement of the Secretary of War: “The recent use of the atomic bomb over Japan, which was today made known by the President, is the culmination of years of herculean effort on the part of science and industry working in cooperation with the military authorities . . . While space does not permit of a complete listing of the industrial concerns which have contributed so signally to the success of the project, mention should be made of a few. The du Pont de Nemours Company designed and constructed the Hanford installations in Washington and operate them. A special subsidiary of the M.W. Kellogg Company of New York designed one of the plants at Clinton, which was constructed by the J.A. Jones Company and is operated by the Union Carbide and Carbon Company.”
“Does it not seem unfortunate,” Congressman Leavy of Washington asked in 1942, “that this great nation in its hour of peril must depend upon a group whose misconduct will have been officially established in connection with strangling production by contract agreement with our enemies?” Leavy was talking, besides a few others, about Dow Chemical and the patent cartel they had operated in with I G Farben – infamous instrument of Nazi economic domination – until WWII was underway. Investigations by the Truman Committee in the early 1940’s discovered that Dow sold magnesium, a material vital to the war industry, to Nazi Germany for 21 cents a pound while maintaining a 30-cent price in the US. “Our own Dow Chemical Company,” said Congressman Rabant in 1942, “was the sole licensee in this country and agreed to sell only a small amount to England.” As a result of Dow’s treachery, by 1940 American output of magnesium was 6,000 tons while Germany’s was 25,000 tons, giving the Nazi war machine a distinct advantage in aircraft production.
When the matter came up during the Nuremberg trial of twenty four I G Farben corporate officers in 1947, Willard H. Dow, then chairman of the company, apparently said: “We never had any contract with Farben.” The Nation called Dow’s comment, in the light of numerous investigations, “an amazing statement”.
The chief suspect at the trial of IG Farben was Otto Ambros, production chief of I.G. Farben’s poison gas facilities. A subsidiary of Farben manufactured Zyklon B, the poison of Auschwitz, whose chief ingredient was hydrogen cyanide: the same chemical found in the bodies of Carbide’s victims in Bhopal (and now a part of Dow’s global manufacturing). Ambros was convicted for crimes against humanity, including slavery and murder, and sentenced to eight years in prison in a ruling highly significant to the development of international law for corporate crime. However, Ambros’ reputation as ‘The Devil’s Chemist’ didn’t make him any less attractive to Dow upon his release from jail: they were so enamored that they invited him to come and work with them in the US.
After the war, Dow was asked to run the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, to secretly make plutonium triggers for nuclear bombs. In the Vietnam War, Dow made napalm and Agent Orange for the war effort. The legacy of these weapons continues, with Vietnam Veterans and Vietnamese suffering numerous Agent-Orange-related health effects.
Dow’s business got a further boost in 1988 when they sold pesticides to Saddam Hussein that they knew could be used as chemical weapons.
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Dioxin in New Zealand
From 1960 until 1987, Dow’s Ivon Watkins (now Dow AgroSciences) plant, located next to the New Plymouth suburb of Paritutu, manufactured nearly 500,000 gallons of Agent Orange, mostly for use by the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Recently, an anonymous executive from the Ivon Watkins facility went on record to say that Dow owned a large piece of land near the plant known as the Experimental Farm. It was there that, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, “we bulldozed pits and dumped thousands of tonnes of chemicals.” Residents nearby the plant have claimed for years that the plant’s emissions caused birth defects, cancer and other diseases, and recently they’ve begun to organize under the banner of the Paritutu Dioxins Investigation Network to demand a health study and cleanup.
Former midwife Hyacinth Henderson, aged 87, says she saw many birth defects when she worked at New Plymouth’s Westown Maternity Hospital. Between 1965 and 1971 she recorded 167 birth defects out of 5392 babies born there. She told the Herald that they had abnormalities she had never seen before and she had been in obstetrics for 40 years. “Some of them were horrific … There were two anecephalics, which means there is no brain or the brain is sheared off above the eyebrows. There were a large number of bone deformities such as clubbed feet and things like that.”
Thanks partly to citizen pressure, a blood study of 24 New Plymouth/Paritutu volunteers was begun by the Ministry of Health in March of 2004. The results, released on Sept. 9th of 2004, confirmed that Dow is one of the largest historical polluters in New Zealand. According to the study, the dioxin levels detected in Paritutu residents are up to fivefold New Zealand’s nation-wide levels, which are themselves second only to South Vietnam.
In what has been described by residents as the “second Vietnam,” Dow now faces massive future liabilities. “The time has come for the company to deal with the demons of its past” the New Zealand Herald writes in an editorial on the issue, labeling Dow’s ethical standards as “lamentable”. Andrew Gibbs of the Paritutu Dioxin Investigation Network put things a different way: “What we are dealing with is New Zealand’s Chernobyl.”
……….• See the New Zealand Ministry of Health website.
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Poisoned in Plaquemine
The town of Plaquemine, on the banks of the Mississippi just south of Baton Rouge, is dominated by the web of chemical tanks and pipes that lace Dow Chemical’s nearby vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) factory.
In March 2001, residents of Myrtle Grove trailer park in Plaquemine, LA received notice that their drinking water was contaminated with vinyl chloride. The pollution occurred sometime between 1994 and September 1997. Tests in 1997 showed that vinyl chloride, a chemical used to make PVC, exceeded safe drinking water standards by two to three times. In 1998 tests showed levels six to seven times higher than the standard for human use and consumption. In both instances, no one was notified. Only after a test conducted in March of 2001 showed elevated levels of vinyl chloride in nine out of twelve wells, did the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DDH) finally notify Myrtle Grove residents and facilitate their switch to Plaquemine city water. Prior to March 2001, as many as 2,000 residents and visitors drank, cooked with and bathed in the contaminated water. Questions remain as to whether or not the DDH or Dow withheld information about the water contamination from residents or regulatory officials. In June of 2002 a former Dow supervisor, Glynn Smith, told a local Plaquemine television station that he had instructed employees to clean railway cars used to transport vinyl chloride and other chemicals by filling them with water and dumping the resultant mix on the ground. (40)
In October of 2004, the US EPA released a report that pointed to Dow as the likely source of groundwater contamination, an assertion the company continues to hotly refute. According to the Associated Press, “The EPA report sidestepped directly blaming Dow for the contamination, saying instead that chemicals got into the ground in the area around the plant, which includes the company’s landfill. ‘We can locate the source of contamination to a geographic area – that is what we can confidently do,’ said Cynthia Fanning, an EPA spokeswoman. ‘And that geographic area is owned by Dow Chemical, but not entirely.'”
Vinyl chloride has been associated with increased risk of cancer of liver, brain, lung and digestive tract. On January 8, 2002, current and former residents of Myrtle Grove filed class-action suit against Dow in 18th Judicial District Court in Louisiana alleging that the company knew and covered up information about vinyl chloride contamination in their community. Dow has denied that the VCM in the groundwater is from its factory. Meanwhile, residents of the trailer park were “coerced” into leaving their homes.
……….• See the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.
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Seadrift: Carbide’s Chemical Playground
“The Union Carbide, Seadrift, Texas plant was built in 1954. It operates alongside of sensitive wetlands and a bay system that provides a livelihood to the many fishermen that live in Seadrift. 5 to 10 million gallons a day of wastewater is dumped into the barge canal that opens into San Antonio Bay. Their wastewater treatment system lies open and alongside the barge channel and for many years the county’s drinking water ran through Union Carbide/Dow’s Burning pits, spill areas, and fields contaminated with over 19 constituents (benzene, napththalene, toluene, etc) some with concentrations as high as 2300 ppm. Plant wide, Union Carbide/Dow had over 50 areas contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen and linked to Leukemia. In 1991, after a permit battle over a landfill and the drinking water, Union Carbide rerouted the drinking water, saying it was changing the route due to ‘water hyacinth that clogged the bayou.’
“Calhoun County area bays (Lavaca, Matagorda, and San Antonio Bay) have witnessed the largest dolphin die-offs in the Mammal Stranding Network’s history. In a few short months over 200 died. The area bays have also witnessed green, brown, and red tides that kill the fish and at times are toxic to humans.
“On March 12, 1991, an explosion and fire at the Union Carbide plant killed one worker, injured 32 others and came within minutes of killing hundreds. A leaked OSHA document revealed that Union Carbide’s EHS (Environmental, Health, and Safety) staff had conducted 7 audits over a period of twenty years, at least 3 of which warned explicity of the dangers which contributed to the disaster. Four of the audits were conducted after the Bhopal disaster and after Union Carbide pushed the Chemical Manufacturer’s Associate to create the Responsible Care Program of self-regulation. And yet, UCC failed to act on their own EHS staffs recommendations or in accordance with its own Responsible Care rhetoric.
“In 1991, a retired superintendent of the UCC plant came with a map showing the C- Dripolene Decant Basin (benzene waste). He said his grandson was mentally retarded and he could no longer live with the truth of what UCC had did. He said at the Basin and near the county’s drinking water source (Goff Bayou) there was a tank that leaked. The company knew that if they dumped the C-Dripolene in the tank it would leak out and then they could put more waste in the tank. It was a convenient and inexpensive way to get rid of benzene waste. This went on for years until UCC got afraid someone had found out and they suddenly went in and tried to clean up the mess. A bulldozer was nearly lost in the cleanup and much of the contamination bulldozed fell into the drinking water.”
– Diane Wilson, mother of five, fourth-generation fisherwoman, environmental activist.
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“Dead Peasant” Life Insurance
According to a 2002 class action lawsuit, Dow Chemical took out secret life insurance policies on 21,000 of its workers, keeping the proceeds when they died. In many states, taking out such policies are illegal, including Texas, where Dolores Baker claims Dow had a such a policy on her husband – a security supervisor who retired from Dow’s plant in Freeport in 1993 and died in 1999.
When the beneficiary doesn’t have a legitimate interest, the insurance proceeds revert back to the employee’s estate under Texas law, and the relatives of former Dow employees are suing Dow for the benefits. Leslie Hatfield, a Dow spokeswoman, said in the Houston Chronicle that the policies were purchased only on those employees who consented.
Michael Myers, with the law firm of McClanahan & Clearman in Houston, said that if the company paid $10,000 a year in premiums, the benefits to covered employees could be worth as much as $300,000 each.
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Colombo: Another Bhopal
On the night of October 16, 2000, Union Carbide’s binding gum-producing factory discharged chemicals, including poisonous ethyl acrylate, into an open drain in a heavily-populated suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka, seriously harming at least 100 people, including 25 children. More than 1,000 people sought medical treatment. The discharge immediately sparked angry protests because residents have complained for five years about the dangerous pollution in Ekala, about 25 kilometres north of Colombo city.
The leak affected the water and air over a two-square kilometre area. Residents suddenly suffered sore eyes, headache, vomiting, breathing problems, choking and rising temperatures. Children were taken to nearby hospitals, with some serious cases transferred to Colombo’s national hospital the next day. More than 500 people gathered outside the factory during the night and demanded its immediate closure. Security officers admitted that the company, a subsidiary of the US multinational, had released contaminated water into the drain but claimed that the incident had ended. They refused to allow residents into the plant to see for themselves. However, the protest forced the local council to order the plant’s temporary closure. When the affected residents met the next morning at a small hall to discuss further steps, a leading local politician from the Peoples Alliance government led a mob assault on them. A gang of about 15 attacked the meeting with leather belts, batons and bottles. Those who fled were attacked with stones and some suffered leg injuries as they had tried to scale walls to escape.
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Government: On the Dow Dole
Dow is no stranger to using money to get what it wants. Frank Popoff summed up Dow’s philosophy on influence-peddling at the 1998 Annual Meeting when he said, “This is a nation born over 200 years ago. It only works when business dialogues with government.”
Dow’s idea of a dialogue appears to be money changing hands. Dow and its subsidiaries manage a massive full- and part-time lobbying force. From 1998 to 2002, Dow spent $12,210,000 on Washington lobbying – an average of more than $2.4 million per year. (41) According to federal lobbying reports, in 1997 Dow spent over $2.1 million lobbying on issues as disparate as Most Favored Nation status for China, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and Alaskan Wetlands.
To further confuse the public, Dow hides behind seemingly innocuous—but powerful—trade associations, easily covering up the trail of money that leads from corporation to legislation. Many of these associations have their own lobbyists that influence state, federal and international policies. The Chemical Manufacturers Association alone (now called the “American Chemistry Council”) had 37 federal lobbyists in 1997 and spent over $2.7 million in the first half of the year lobbying on climate change, children’s health, tort reform, China’s trade status, Superfund, taxes, FDA reform, the Safe Drinking Water Act, wetlands, and labor issues. In this way, Dow safeguards its public image while undermining policies that prioritize public health and safety over the corporate bottom line.
At times, Dow’s behavior has been criminal. On February 13, 2007, the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Dow would pay a $325,000 civil penalty to settle charges that its subsidiary made improper payments to Indian government officials who held sway over regulatory approvals for the company’s pesticides.
Dow Chemical, based in Midland, Michigan, also agreed to cease and desist from future violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It settled with the SEC without admitting or denying wrongdoing.
The SEC found that, from 1996 through 2001, Dow Chemical’s DE-Nocil Crop Protection Ltd. unit paid an estimated $200,000 in improper payments and gifts to Indian state and federal officials as it sought to register several products in time for India’s growing season. The SEC said these payments weren’t adequately reflected in Dow Chemical’s books and records, and that the company’s system of internal controls failed to prevent the payments.
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Dow’s Vindictive Nature
The nastiness and cruelty of Dow’s attacks on its critics has often been breathtaking. In 1985, in one of its harshest attacks, Dow once famously tried to discredit Melissa Ortquist, a Greenpeace activist who had plugged Dow’s chemical outflow pipes at the company’s Midland, MI headquarters. After her arrest for trespass, city police illegally sampled her blood and tested it for venereal disease. When the test came back positive – in error, as it later turned out – Dow, which had somehow obtained the results, gleefully publicized them. Aside from exposing a vile streak in Dow’s mentality, the incident raised a disturbing question: if Dow could get past privacy laws to see those test results from the Midland health department, did that mean the company could see – and possibly edit – county health statistics? Letters asking that question began to appear in the Midland Daily News (along with a full-page apology to Ortquist from the Dow Chairman, apologizing for the company’s “serious error of judgment”).
More recently, in 2004, Dow led twenty of the biggest chemical companies in the United States in an effort to discredit two historians who studied the industry’s decision to conceal links between their products and cancer. In an unprecedented move, attorneys for Dow, Monsanto, Goodrich, Goodyear, Union Carbide and others have subpoenaed and deposed five academics who recommended that the University of California Press publish the book Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner. The companies have also recruited their own historian to argue that Markowitz and Rosner have engaged in unethical conduct. Markowitz is a professor of history at the CUNY Grad Center; Rosner is a professor of history and public health at Columbia University and director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia’s School of Public Health. The reasons for the companies’ actions are not hard to find: they face potentially massive liability claims on the order of the tobacco litigation if cancer is linked to vinyl chloride-based consumer products such as hairspray. The stakes are high also for publishers of controversial books, and for historians who write them, because when authors are charged with ethical violations and manuscript readers are subpoenaed, that has a chilling effect. The stakes are highest for the public, because this dispute centers on access to information about cancer-causing chemicals in consumer products.
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Thwarting Chemical Regulation
According to a 2004 report by Rep. Henry Waxman, The Chemical Industry, the Bush Administration, and European Efforts to Regulate Chemicals, Dow and other chemical companies successfully pressured the Bush Administration to lobby against the European Union’s new chemicals policy, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals). REACH would require stricter management of chemicals depending on their risk and require companies to provide scientific data on the intrinsic properties and hazards of each substance. The European Commission estimates REACH could prevent between 2,200 to 4,300 occupational cancer cases per year. Health benefits of REACH could be up to $61 billion over a 30-year period.
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Bathing in Uranium
Twenty years after the Union Carbide uranium mill in Uravan, Colorado, closed in 1984, a group of 82 former Uravan residents and descendants of company employees is suing the company, blaming it for a variety of suspected mining- and milling-related illnesses and genetic disorders. The lawsuit charges that Union Carbide dumped liquid uranium wastes directly into the San Miguel River from 1936 to the mid-1950s. The company began putting liquid and solid wastes into containment ponds in the mid-1950s, the suit said, but those ponds were unlined – meaning the wastes could seep down into the soil and contaminate groundwater. Because Union Carbide didn’t supply water for Long Park, a mining camp of tents and shacks, its residents often drank water from the uranium mines, the suit said. The suit also alleges that Union Carbide permitted employees to leave its mines and the mill without showering or changing clothes. Workers’ clothes were covered in uranium dust and were washed along with the family’s clothing.
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Mercury in the Drinking Water
In 1978, at Union Carbide’s Cimanggis plant in Indonesia, 402 employees (more than half the work force of 750) were found to be suffering from kidney diseases attributable to mercury poisoning. The company’s doctor Dr. Maizar Syafei reported that she was asked by the company not to tell the workers that there was mercury in their drinking water or else the workers “would become anxious.”
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Of Clopyralid and Dead Crops
Clopyralid, an herbicide manufactured by Dow AgroSciences and sold under the names of ‘Confront’ and ‘Stinger’ is so toxic to some plants that it can harm them at concentrations as low as 1 part per billion. Commonly used on lawns to kill weeds such as clover, thistle, dandelions, knapweed and hawkweed, clopyralid usually remains in yard clippings, and when these are composted, the soil that comes out is contaminated. This has caused innumerable problems for organic farmers, small farmers, and anyone who relies on natural compost to fertilize their crops. Instead of fertilizing crops, compost contaminated with clopyralid kills them, particularly sensitive crops such as peas, beans, tomatoes, potatoes and sunflowers. Clopyralid has been found at harmful levels in commercial and municipal compost in Washington, California, Pennsylvania and New Zealand; (42) in response to growing pressure from composters and organic farmers, Dow withdrew clopyralid from use on residential lawns in the U.S. in 2002, although this use may persist). (43) For more information on the magnitude of the problem, see the GRRN network.
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A Deadly Product Line
In addition to those mentioned above, Dow manufactures a wide range of chemicals with dangerous environmental and human health effects, including 2,4-D (one of two active ingredients in Agent Orange and Agent White; a possible carcinogen, suspected endocrine disruptor and potential ground water contaminant); (44) 2,4,5-T (the other active ingredient of Agent Orange; a carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor; in 1977, a lawsuit and subsequent scientific studies linked 2,4,5-T crop spraying to miscarriages in Oregon); (45) Ethylene Dibromide, or EDB (a carcinogen, ground water contaminant, developmental/reproductive toxin and suspected endocrine disruptor that was used as a nematicide, rodenticide and insecticide until it was banned in the U.S. in 1983); (46) Haloxyfop (a probable human carcinogen that is not registered in the United States, but is sold throughout the world as Gallant and Verdict; (47) one of many “circle of poison” pesticides that can be manufactured in the U.S., applied abroad and returned as residue on imported foods); (48) Nuarimol (a fungicide that causes cancer and birth defects in animals; (49) although it is not registered in the U.S. it is sold in Africa, Colombia, Honduras and Europe); (50) Oxyfluorfen (an herbicide classified by the EPA a possible human carcinogen); (51) Picloram (an herbicide chemically similar to clopyralid, which poses a threat to composters (52) and contains the contaminant hexachlorobenzene (HCB), a probable human carcinogen; (53) it was also one of two active ingredients in Agent White and is a potential ground water contaminant); Telone (a soil fumigant, carcinogen, and ground water contaminant; one of its active ingredients, 1,3-dichloropropene, produces cancer and birth defects in test animals); (54) Strongarm (an herbicide that harmed peanut crops, prompting Texas farmers to sue in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court); and Sulfuryl fluoride, or Vikane (a fumigant used to kill termites and other pests that has been restricted for extreme acute toxicity). (55)
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Other Dirty Deeds
2,4,5-T Poisons Globe, Arizona
In 1970, miscarriages and illnesses, linked to the spraying of Dow’s pesticide 2,4,5-T (half of Agent Orange) by the Forest Service in Globe, Arizona, resulted in a court case between Dow and the local community. Though Dow knew about the dangerous effects of this herbicide, it first refused to accept liability and finally settled in 1980. The same situation arose in the Alsea Valley in Oregon, prompting the Environmental Protection Agency to ban 2,4,5-T. Dow unsuccessfully sued the EPA to repeal the ban and dropped the case in 1983.
“Everyone remembers the goose. Publications ranging from prestigious to prurient lavished coverage on a Hemlock-area honker with its wings on backward. The town of Hemlock, Michigan – named after a long-gone canopy of evergreen trees – quickly became the dateline in macabre reports of fouled fowl, cows with purple teeth, green-gutted rabbits and wilted houseplants. Less tabloid-worthy yet worrisome human symptoms also plagued residents southeast of the village, who by 1977 feared Dow Chemical Co.’s deep brine disposal had contaminated their drinking water. This 25-year-old story, which bubbled up in 1978, stands out as a chemical mystery by sparking a far-flung pollution probe that left residents with no easy answers. ‘You had to keep the focus, and I couldn’t spend my whole life doing this,’ says Carol Jean Kruger, now 68, who spent years seeking information.”
Along with other companies, Dow is a major producer of the dry-cleaning chemical polychlorethylene, or PERC. And along with other companies, Dow is being held liable for groundwater contamination caused by the chemical.
On June 9, 2006, a San Francisco jury imposed punitive damages of $100 million against Vulcan Materials Co. and $75 million against Dow Chemical Co. in a lawsuit brought by the city of Modesto, Calif., over groundwater contamination. $3.17 million was awarded in compensatory damages.
Dow responded by calling the members of the jury stupid: “Dow will vigorously challenge this baseless jury verdict and if necessary in the appellate courts,” said Dow Chemical spokesman Scot Wheeler. “The jury’s verdict, particularly with respect to punitive damages, is clearly erroneous.”
Union Carbide has been a major supplier to the semiconductor industry which uses its chemicals in the manufacturing of silicon chips for computer devices. Workers are claiming their exposure to hazardous substances is linked to a variety of cancers, miscarriages, and birth defects. Union Carbide, IBM and National Semiconductor have all been named in lawsuits.
Exporting Unregistered Pesticides to Africa, Latin America
In 1990, Dow’s joint venture with Eli Lilly, DowElanco, exported two pesticides from the United States which were not registered by the EPA. The EPA refused to register DowElanco’s herbicide haloxyfop, marketed under the names “Gallant” and “Verdict,” and has classified it as a “probable human carcinogen.” According to a July 1990 Greenpeace report, “Never-Registered Pesticides,” DowElanco nevertheless exported haloxyfop for sale in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. The EPA refused to set a permissible residue standard (known as food residue tolerances) for both haloxyfop and nuarimol – another DowElanco product sold under the trade names “Gauntlet” and “Tridal” – because it causes cancer and birth defects in laboratory animals. Nevertheless, DowElanco continued to export nuarimol for use in Africa, Colombia and Honduras and Europe.
As a former member of the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), Dow opposed restrictions on the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming and climate change, and tried to obscure scientific evidence provided by 2,500 of the world’s leading climate change scientists that global worming is a reality. Dow’s interest in undermining climate change science is clear: it produces chlorine which is used in the manufacture of greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons and halocarbons, and manufactures feedstocks and chemicals used by oil, gas and auto industries—industries that contribute to climate change.
PVC: The Poison Plastic
PVC, or vinyl, produces dioxin throughout its lifecycle and is thought to be a larger source of dioxin formation than any other single material. Dow is the world’s largest producer of materials that are used to produce PVC (chlorine, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride monomer). Dow’s total vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) production capacity globally is approximately 2.5 million metric tons per year.
Chlorinated Solvents and Dioxin
Dow is the largest producer of chlorinated solvents, which are used for cleaning and coating in industries ranging from automobile manufacturing to dry cleaning. As with PVC, chlorinated solvents produce dioxin at multiple points throughout their life cycles.
Dow, along with other chemical giants including DuPont and Bayer, engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy to set prices in a half-dozen chemicals, according to U.S. and European investigators and the DowJones news service. The chemicals were used in plastics, rubber, and synthetic materials in industries as wide-ranging as automobiles, furniture, and flooring. Among the deals discovered was a conspiracy to hike the price of neoprene, a synthetic rubber used in auto manufacture and in electronics, and the widely-used plastic urethane. Another area was in the pricing of EPDM, a synthetic rubber. In that case, competitors kept factories running well below capacity and hiked the price based on an artificial shortage. At least four grand-jury investigations stemming from the investigations currently are underway in San Francisco. In May, purchasers of neoprene filed suit against Dow and DuPont, which had formed a joint venture to produce and sell the synthetic material. The purchasers claimed the two companies met secretly with global rivals to fix prices and divide the sales of neoprene. It wasn’t long before DuPont Dow Elastomers agreed to settle, in June, for $36 million, but other cases are still ongoing. According to the Baltimore Sun, DuPont Dow Elastomers LLC, a joint venture of DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co., agreed in January 2005 to pay an $84 million criminal fine and plead guilty to price fixing.
Poisoning the Public
Dow is profiting from a decision by the US Forest Service to pursue an extensive herbicide program surrounding Missoula, Montana, using several Dow pesticides that have multiple documented health effects. This USFS decision was made in the face of significant public opposition to the spraying, but was made in close consultation with Dow AgroSciences. Read more in Montana’s War on Weeds, a report by Beyond Pesticides.
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A 2004 report by the investment analysis firm Innovest, Dow Chemical: Risks for Investors, examines the financial implications that all these liabilities hold for the company. For more information, see the Dow Corporate Profile assembled by the Pesticide Action Network North America.
This Canadian radio series (one/two/three) explores much of Dow’s toxic legacy, its history of corruption, and disdain for human life. Highly recommended.
(1) Bette Hileman, “Dioxin in Vietnam Remain High” Chemical & Engineering News. July 14, 2003.
(2) “Agent Orange Information Package,” Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc., 1979, available at www.vvnw.org/agent_orange.htm.
(3) Liane Clorfene Casten, “Anatomy of a Cover-Up: The Dioxin File.” The Nation. Nov. 30, 1992.
(4) Bette Hileman, “Dioxin in Vietnam Remain High” Chemical & Engineering News. July 14, 2003.
(5) Stellman, J.M., Stellman, S.D., Christian, R., Weber, T. & C. Tornasallo. “The extent and patterns of usage of Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam.” Nature, Vol. 422. 17 April, 2003.
(6) Tran, Tini, “Study: Agent Orange Still in Vietnam,” AP, 11 August 2003.
(7) “The Story of Agent Orange,” US Veteran Dispatch Staff Report, November 1990, available at http://cybersarges.tripod.com/aostory.html.
(8) Liane Clorfene Casten, “Anatomy of a Cover-Up: The Dioxin File.” The Nation. Nov. 30, 1992.
(9) Liane Clorfene Casten, “Anatomy of a Cover-Up: The Dioxin File.” The Nation. Nov. 30, 1992.
(10) See the Geomorph study here (pdf).
(11) Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Soil Movement Advisory, Information Bulletin #3, Environmental Assessment Initiative, June 2003.
(12) Transcript of “Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report,” Public Broadcasting Service, available at www.pbs.org/tradesecrets/transcript.html.
(13) Factsheet on Dow. Pesticide Action Network North America World Bank Accountability Project. March 2002. Available at: www.panna.org/resources/documents/dow.dv.html
(14) Onstot J et al, Characterization of HRGC/MS Unidentified Peaks from the Analysis of Human Adipose Tissue. Volume 1: Technical Approach. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyOffice of Toxic Substances. 1987
(15) See http://www.chemicalbodyburden.org/whatisbb.htm.
(16) Schafer, K and Reeves, M, Polluting Our Bodies Without Permission, 2003. Available at http://www.panna.org/about/pu/pu_200303.03.dv.html.
(17) Frontline, PBS, see www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/implants/cron.html.
(18) Quoted in “The Loneliness of Noam Chomsky,” Arundhati Roy. The Hindu. August 24, 2003.
(19) US Environmental Protection Agency Administrators announcement, 2000. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/announcement6800.htm.
(20) Eskenzi B et al, Exposures of Children to Organophosphate Pesticides and Their Potential Adverse Health Effects, Environmental Health Perspectives 107 (Suppl. 3). June 1999.
(21) Summary of the Hazards of Dursban (Chlorpyrifos), Natural Resources Defense Council. Available at: http://www.nrdc.org/health/pesticides/bdursban.asp.
(22) Factsheet on Dow. Pesticide Action Network North America World Bank Accountability Project. March 2002. www.panna.org/resources/documents/dow.dv.html.
(23) Morris, Jim, “The Stuff in the Backyard Shed,” US News and World Report, 8 November 1999, available at www.getipm.com/newsletter/99-11.htm.
(24) KLD Research & Analytics, Inc., “Dow Corporate Profile” 2002.
(25) See www.garynull.com/Documents/FatalFallout/FatalFallout1.htm.
(26) See www.stanford.edu/group/SICD/DowChemical/dow.html.
(27) Jeff Kart, “Scientific panel rules human pesticide tests are ethical”. The Saginaw News, February 20, 2004.
(28) Morris, Jim, “The Stuff in the Backyard Shed,” US News and World Report, 8 November 1999, available at www.getipm.com/newsletter/99-11.htm.
(29) Lester, Stephen, “Chemical Injuries: Industry’s ‘True Lies’ the Politics Behind the Scientific Debate on Dioxin,” Everyone’s Backyard Vol. 13 No. 3. Available at: http://www.safe2use.com/pesticides/truelies.htm
(30) “Dow Announces Biotechnology Strategy,” Dow Chemical Company News on Call, 8 September 1998, www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=105&STORY=/www/story/09-08-1998/0000745885 on 12 August 2003.
(31) See www.grain.org/seedling/?id=117
(32) See www.biotech-info.net/licensing_agreement.html.
(33) The Polaris Institute. See www.polarisinstitute.org.
(34) See www.mindfully.org/GE/GE4/Hawaii-Corn-Pioneer-Dow16dec02.htm.
(35) “Money and Ballot Measures in the 2002 Election,” available at: www.ballotfunding.org/PostElection.pdf.
(36) Dow faces suit over South African pollution, Detroit News, September 23, 2003. Available at: http://www.detnews.com/2003/business/0309/23/business-279338.htm
(37) “Companies face apartheid accusations,” Al Jazeera, 12 October 2003. www.english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/375E7D12-AA7C-4725-99A6-1AA9610FDE4E.htm
(38) “ToxFAQs for DDT, DDE, and DDD,” ATSDR, September 2002, available at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts35.html.
(39) See www.metaltrades.org/Dow_Whitepaper.pdf.
(40) “Dow Poison Vinyl Chloride in Plaquemine,” WBRZ News, August 2002, available at www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Polyvinylchloride/Dow-Vinyl-Chloride-Plaquemine14aug02.htm.
(41) Biotech Industry Lobbying Expenditures 1998-2002, Capital Eye, 2004. Available at: http://www.capitaleye.org/bio-lobbying.asp.
(42) Green, Emily, “Clopyralid by Dow AgroSciences Found in Composted Grass,” LA Times, 27 December 2001. Available at: www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Clopyralid-Composting-Dow.htm.
(43) Steele, Karen Dorn, “EPA Accused of Bowing to Dow,” The Spokesman-Review, 26 September 2002. Available at: www.grrn.org/dow/spokesmanreview_9-26-2002.html
(44) Regarding this and subsequent pesticides listed here, see PAN Pesticide Database, Pesticide Action Network North America, www.pesticideinfo.org.
(45) Van Strum, Carol, “Back to the Future: EPA Reinvents the Wheel on Reproductive Effects of Dioxin,” Synthesis/Regeneration 7-8, Summer 1995. Available at: www.greens.org/s-r/078/07-25.html.
(46) “Ethylene Dibromide (EDB) Chemical Profile,” The Pesticide Management Education Program, December 1984. Available at: http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/fumigant/ethylene-dibromide/fumi-prof-edb.html
(47) Brockley, Ross, “Corporate Profile Dow: the Menace from Midland.” Available at: http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1991/07/mm0791_10.html.
(48) Marquardt, Sandra, Glassman, Laura and Sheldon, Elizabeth, “Never Registered Pesticides: Rejected Toxics Join the ‘Circle of Poison,’” Greenpeace USA Pesticide Campaign, February 1992. Available at: http://archive.greenpeace.org/gopher/campaigns/toxics/1992/neverreg.txt
(49) Brockley, Ross, “Corporate Profile Dow: the Menace from Midland.” Available at: http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1991/07/mm0791_10.html.
(50) Marquardt, Sandra, Glassman, Laura and Sheldon, Elizabeth, “Never Registered Pesticides: Rejected Toxics Join the ‘Circle of Poison,’” Greenpeace USA Pesticide Campaign, February 1992. Available at: http://archive.greenpeace.org/gopher/campaigns/toxics/1992/neverreg.txt
(51) “Pollution Litigation Review – February 2002” FacWorld. Available at: www.facworld.com/facworld.nsf/doc/polllitrev0202.
(52) “Clopyralid and Composting,” GrassRoots Recycling Network, 24 August 2001. Available at: www.grrn.org/dow/compost_council_08-24-01.html.
(53) “Picloram; Time-Limited Pesticide Tolerances,” Federal Register Vol. 64 No. 2, 5 January 1999. Available at: www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-TRI/1999/January/Day-05/tri34830.htm
(54) “1,3-Dichloropropene (Telone II) Chemical Fact Sheet,” The Pesticide Management Education Program, September 1986. Available at: http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/fumigant/dichloropropene/fumi-prof-dichloropropene.html
(55) “Pesticide Information Profile: Sulfuryl Fluoride,” Extension Toxicology Network, September 1993. Available at: http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/pyrethrins-ziram/sulfuryl-fluoride-ext.html.