Union Carbide accountable for water pollution: Bhopal victims to US court

New York, Sep 2 (IANS) Lawyers representing communities living near the site of the Bhopal gas disaster, the world’s worst industrial disaster, argued before the US Court of Appeals that Union Carbide Corp. (UCC) was responsible for water pollution from toxic chemicals that leached underground from the plant and continues to foul wells.

Over a year ago, a New York federal district court found that UCC could not be sued, despite compelling evidence that UCC caused the harm, according to EarthRights International (ERI), which represents the plaintiffs.

“The plaintiffs have provided substantial evidence that demonstrates UCC’s responsibility,” said Richard Herz, senior litigation attorney for EarthRights International (ERI).

“Two leading experts concluded that UCC’s technology and waste disposal strategy for the plant was improper for the site, and caused the water pollution that we still see today.”

Additionally, the manager who oversaw the construction of the plant confirmed that he worked for UCC, not for the Indian subsidiary that officially operated the plant.

But the federal district court ruled that UCC was not sufficiently involved in the acts at the plant and that the project manager actually worked for the subsidiary.

Because the plaintiffs believe that the district court improperly disregarded evidence of UCC’s responsibility, they appealed to the Second Circuit appeals court, said the ERI statement.

On December 2, 1984, poisonous gas from the Bhopal chemical plant enveloped nearby communities, killing thousands of people. The water pollution was unrelated to the gas disaster, but has been leaching from the same plant ever since it was shut down afterward, said ERI.

Marco Simons, ERI’s general counsel, added: “These families have been living with Union Carbide’s pollution for decades. We remain committed to seeking the justice that they deserve.”

In addition to ERI, the plaintiffs are being represented by Rajan Sharma.

ERI is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation that combines the power of law and the power of people in defence of human rights and the environment, which it defines as “earth rights”.

1 Comment

  1. Dear readers,

    On the night of 2 December, 1984, some 40 tonnes of methyl isocynate gas leaks from Union Carbide India pesticide plant in Bhopal. Half a million people are exposed to the gas. Within three days, 8,000 are dead. Thousands more die in the months afterwards.This is one of the longest dragging case ever in the history of India still victims suffering from the ongoing legal battle.

    While BP has agreed to pay a record environmental fine of $18.7bn to settle legal actions brought by the US and several states over the fatal 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.But in this case Dow Chemical, just as it overtakes the assets of a company, namely Union Carbide, it also should overtake the liabilities which washed its hand by just settling with Indian 35,000 rupees ($566; £360) as compensation.

    On 14 November, Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar agreed to revise the figures and promised survivors who have never received compensation they would get what they were entitled to.
    But why are compensation claims dragging on decades after the leak?

    Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers in Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s cabinet Anant Kumar has any clue who will clean the environmental damage and “About 93% of victims were left out of compensation,”?

    Why Bhopal was not asked by his government to adopt by US in ‘Smart City’ ,which Digvijay government in power since last one decade?

    Is ‘Surya Namaskara’, egg ban is the solution for the victims of such disaster?

    Modi’s government which rushed to sign Nuclear treaty which it earlier opposed while opposition has any solution?
    How disaster like Bhopal will be prevented when India doesn’t even have technology or disaster management,When Fukushima can’t prevent by Japan or Chernobyl by Russia?

    Is Modi’s ‘development’ has less dignity to the human life in India?Why ‘Swacch Bharat’ is not taken up for Bhopal even BJP in power serving from the Capital which once Muslim Queens ruled the region with pride?

    Jai Hind

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