Unilever takes to Twitter over mercury furor stating: "extensive studies found no harm in Kodaikanal"

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever takes to Twitter over mercury furor stating: "extensive studies found no harm in Kodaikanal"

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Following accusations that Hindustan Unilever exposed former factory workers in Kodaikanal to mercury poisoning, the brand states that "extensive studies found no harm to workers or the environment". 

It all stems from a YouTube video featuring Indian rapper Sofia Ashraf which accuses the global personal care giant of failing to clean up mercury contamination after the closure of its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal, India.

Although the facility has been closed since 2001, and Unilever claims that 7.4 tonnes of mercury has been removed from the area, campaigners believe that remnants still impact groundwater in the region.

Ashraf raps: "Unilever came and left devastation as they exposed the land to contamination. The environment is is polluted still. Your clean-up was a sham – there's poison in the air."

In response, the company took to Twitter, stating that; "Safety is our number one priority. Extensive studies found no harm to workers or environment in Kodaikanal.​"

Previous Unilever workers have also publicly protested against the company and recently in June 2015, 11 families of the workers came to the Mumbai headquarters of Unilever to raise this issue.

They were supported by 30 volunteers from Mumbai. They held placards and photographs of the deceased workers and their children.

High Court deliberates whether Unilever is liable

Madras High Court is reportedly still deliberating on the case relating to this factory, where the campaigners say employees worked without protective equipment and suffered from health problems as a consequence.

Sofia Ashraf's rap video has gone viral since being published last month, which links to a petition asking the company to take responsibility for incidents of mercury poisoning in the area and has attracted almost 50,000 signatures so far.

"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​," Unilever adds.

The company also plans to clean up soil around the factory premises after it gets final consent from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

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