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Campaign against Toxics

Anti-mercury campaign in India heats up
Endosulfan Tragedy in Kerala

Anti-mercury campaign in India heats up

Following allegations of toxic waste dumping, Hindustan Lever has decided to discontinue manufacture of mercury thermometers at its Kodaikanal factory in Tamil Nadu. Hindustan Lever has also reportedly agreed to clean up 5.3 tonnes of mercury that it has illegally dumped, but the firm denies that the workers and local inhabitants may have been exposed to the highly toxic metal.

Unilever, a giant Anglo-Dutch multinational corporation whose products include Dove soap and Lipton tea, has been accused of dumping mercury in a hazardous manner via a factory owned by its Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Lever Limited. The factory is in the mountain town and tourist resort of Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu and produces thermometers for the export market.

On March 7, local activists from the Palni Hills Conservation Council and Greenpeace India cordoned off a dump site in Kodaikanal where the factory had dumped contaminated waste. They also led a protest march of about two hundred people against HLL and Unilever for bringing the toxic metal into the town and dumping it in such a manner.

Environment activist group Greenpeace has asked the Union government to initiate an action plan to rapidly phase in safe, non-toxic alternatives to mercury use in India.

Read the News reports:
Greens force HLL to close Kodaikanal plant (June 29, 2001)
Greenpeace charges HLL with toxic dumping at TN plant ( June 21, 2001)
HLL to stop production at Kodaikanal plant (June 20, 2001)
Greenpeace seeks alternatives for mercury use (June 20, 2001)
Unilever admits to toxic dumping; will clean up, but not come clean (June 19, 2001)
Lever Plays Rough to Cover-up Mercury Mess (April 11, 2001)
Hindustan Lever admits to dumping of mercury-containing wastes (March 22, 2001)
Lever suspends mercury use at Kodi (March , 2001)
TamilNadu groups launch alliance against mercury and Lever (March 12, 2001)

Lever, Clean up, Don't cover up (March 9, 2001)
Greenpeace accuses Unilever of negligence over mercury poisoning of Indian tourist resort (March 7, 2001)
Greenpeace: Dangerous mercury thermometer factory and waste dump in India has links to major U.S. company. Children and workers exposed to mercury imported from the U.S. (March 7, 2001)
Activists expose Hindustan Lever's illegal mercury waste dumps in Kodaikanal (February 28, 2001)

See visual evidence of mercury pollution in Kodaikanal: Greenpeace photographs expose Hindustan Lever's environmental crime

Act Now! Join the ex-workers of Hindustan Lever's polluting mercury thermometer factory in their appeal for justice and for freedom from mercury pollution. Ex-workers, who were exposed to mercury in the workplace, launched their campaign on Earth Day with a day-long hunger strike. Sign Greenpeace-India's online petition to stop Unilever's pollution in India!

On a personal level, you can help by boycotting products made by Unilever's Indian subsidiary, HLL. If more people decided to do this, it would send the message that Indian consumers do not support polluting companies.

Write a letter to Unilever's Executive Committee protesting the dumping of mercury in India. Example of a letter you can send.

Unilever's Executive Committee:
Unilever's address and fax no. in the U.K.:

Unilever PLC London
Unilever House
United Kingdom

Unilever's Postal Address:

P O Box 68
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7 822-5252
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7 822-5951

Take Action! Prevent the dumping of toxic mercury in India

Mercury is an extremely powerful neurotoxin that has already contaminated waterways throughout the United States, posing widespread dangers to the population, particularly pregnant women and children.

Earlier this year, a US company attempted to ship 118 tons of used mercury from a failed HoltraChem chlor-alkali factory in Maine to India.
Fortunately, our vigilant activists alerted the government to the danger and the shipment was rejected.

However the danger is far from over and as long as India continues to accept these shipments, we will continue to be a dumping ground for toxic wastes that are rejected elsewhere.
Get more information on mercury (pdf)
Did you know that mercury can affect the brain?
Read the background on the Holtrachem shipment
View the NGO statement, sent to the Indian Government

Read the News and Press releases
Health Care Without Harm praises Minnesota law to ban mercury thermometer sales (April 26, 2001)
Environmentalists applaud mercury action by US Senator Susan Collins (February 15, 2001)
Greens urge U.S. Congress to ban mercury (January 30, 2001)

Activists hail recall of toxic USA mercury shipment to India (January 29, 2001)
Government of India rejects mercury shipment! (January 25, 2001)
India bound mercury shipment under fire (January 10, 2001)

Plan to study mercury's risks unveiled (January 3, 2001)

Environmentalists join forces to prevent export of waste mercury to India (January 5, 2001)
Greens oppose US scheme to dump toxic mercury in India (December 26, 2000)

Related news links
Foreign toxics wastes dumped in Mumbai: Greenpeace (November 3, 2000)
India remains a favoured dumping ground for global toxic wastes (September 11, 2000)

Pesticide Tragedy in Kerala

Pesticide Spraying Exacts Deadly Toll in Kerala Village

For 10 years, a doctor struggled to understand it. Why were so many people - children in particular - in his Kerala village suffering from disorders of the central nervous system? Cerebral palsy, congenital anomalies and mental retardation, among other disorders. Then, one day in December 2000, he asked: Could it be the pesticide endosulfan? The effects of this toxin on human body are quite similar to the maladies he was seeing. The Plantation Corporation of Kerala has been spraying endosulfan for years in its neighbouring cashew plantations. Read the press releases from CAAM

CSE's special report shows that the area residents may have been subsidising government's cashew production with their lives. CSE got samples from Kerala analysed at its recently set up Environment Monitoring Laboratory. The amount of endosulfan was unbelievably high in all the samples. Blood, milk, water, soil, food. The amount of endosulfan in one woman's blood is 900 times the limit set for water. CSE released the shocking results of its laboratory analysis on samples brought from Padre village of Kerala, where a lot of unusual diseases related to the central nervous system have been reported, especially among children. See the full lab report (pdf) (Released February 21, 2001)

Read the news reports:
Indian villagers suffer serious health effects from governmental company's pesticides programme (March 2, 2001)
Children of Endosulfan: Down to Earth Special Report (February 28, 2001)
Omnipresent Poison (February 28, 2001)
CSE laboratory analysis strengthens suspicion that the Kerala pesticide tragedy is a Government corporation's creation (February 21, 2001)

Read this report on the Padre endosulfan tragedy and offer your comments.
India: Killer Diseases strike Kasaragod Village

For information on toxicity of endosulphan here are some sources:

For more information contact:
Shree Padre, Journalist,
Post Vaninagar, Via Perla 671552
Kerala State, INDIA
Tel : 91-499-866148 ; 91-8251-47234

Speak to the executives of the PCK and protest the poisoning of the villagers by their endosulfan apray.
Contact numbers of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala:
Mr. Bala Kurup, Manager of TPCK, Kasaragod. Phone: 91-499-450223.
Headquarters of TPCK: Managing Director's phone: 91-481-578301

Write a letter to your elected representatives urging them to take steps to promote safer alternatives. Example of a letter you can send.

An interesting ad was recently published by the Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India, in the Times of India (Bangalore) recently. Although it doesn't say deny that Endosulfan is the cause, it implies that it is safe for use. See the excerpts of the ad below, and take action on it by snding an e-mail to the PMFAI President with your personal objections to the ad. (We shall provide a letter you can send soon,but a personal letter will carry more weight)


A section of the press had recently carried reports originating from one particularly village in Kerala about certain health problems allegedly arising out of aerial application of Endosulfan. This press release brings a few important facts to light in this connection.

* All pesticides undergo extensive safety testing before they are registered for commercial use. When used as recommended, registered pesticides do not pose an adverse impact on the environment and people.

* Endosulfan has been registered for commercial use in over 60 countries including USA, Japan and several European countries. The scientific findings of WHO/FAO experts and other regulatory authorities do not suggest that use of Endosulfan causes diverse health problems as alleged in the media.

This clarification is issued for the benefit of users and general public and to clarify the incorrect impression created by the media reports.


Issued by:
Pradeep Dave,
President Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India
B-4, Anand Co-op Hsg Society Ltd, Sitladevi Temple Road, Mahim, Mumbai 400016.
Phone (022) 437 5279
Fax (022) 437 6856

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