Blog: Hannah AbdullaUnilever toxic waste video goes viral

Hannah Abdulla | 6 August 2015

Unilever has found itself at the centre of a public campaign which alleges it dumped toxic waste in India.

A YouTube video, featuring a former Ogilvy & Mather advertising copywriter and a crusading rapper called Sofia Ashraf, accuses Unilever of dumping mercury from a now defunct thermometer factory in the forest near Kodaikanal.

“Unilever came and left devastation as they exposed the land to contamination. The environment is polluted still. Your clean-up was a sham — there’s poison in the air," she sings.

The video has helped Bangalore-based campaign group, Jhatkaa, to collect roughly 45,000 signatures for a petition to Paul Polman, Unilever’s global chief executive, demanding that the company clean up the site.

The #UnileverPollutes hashtag on Twitter is already receiving a flood of interest.

One user, Scarlett A Johnson posted:

In a statement, Unilever said it had launched a health and safety investigation into the matter after closing the site in 2001.

"While extensive studies on the health of our former workers and the Kodaikanal environment have not found any evidence of harm, we continue to take this issue very seriously and it’s one we are keen to see resolved. We have been working hard to find a fair and mutually satisfactory resolution at the suggestion of the Madras High Court and have had more than ten meetings with our former employees’ representatives since 2014. However, achieving this will require all stakeholders – including employee representatives, NGOs and legal representatives – to get behind these efforts and agree on an outcome."

Unilever added that an expert study has also concluded that there was no adverse impact on the environment in Kodaikanal.


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