Warren Anderson was a company man. He
devoted his life to climbing the Union Carbide ladder. Took the first job
offered him out of college. Started as a salesman. Moved his family from city
to city. Paid his dues. Did good things. Helped a bit in the ecology area. By
the time he became chairman and chief executive, in 1982, he ruled over an
empire of 700 plants in dozens and dozens of companies. If it hadn't been for
Bhopal, oh, shit, Bhopal. He became, by dint of his title, the Butcher of
From the New York Times:
"The Bhopal horror began around
midnight on Dec. 2–3, 1984, when a chemical reaction in a plant that made insecticides
caused a leak of toxic gases that swept through the surrounding community. The
government of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh confirmed 3,787 deaths as a
result. Unofficial estimates exceeded 10,000. More than a half-million people
were injured, with many dying from illnesses including lung cancer, kidney
failure and liver disease.
In 1989, Union Carbide paid $470
million to the Indian government to settle litigation stemming from the
disaster. But the Indian public, cheered on by politicians and the news media,
never stopped urging the prosecution of Mr. Anderson, and arrest warrants were
It's nothing if not complex. Blame was thrown back and forth. Was it Union
Carbine in charge, or local oversight? Was it negligence, or was it sabotage? Were
they mixing dangerous chemicals together to save money? He never smiled in
public because he was afraid that people would think that was inappropriate. The
government protected him. He retired, disappeared, and died, practically in
Also in the New York Times obit for Anderson was this little nugget
at the end:
"In later years he gardened and
fished with his wife, who survives him, and baked Swedish bread, following an
old family recipe."
So it ends the obit. If he were a
woman, it would have begun it.
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