Dow Chemical rejects blame for Bhopal gas disaster | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Dow Chemical rejects blame for Bhopal gas disaster

delhi Updated: Jun 22, 2010 14:27 IST

US group Dow Chemical said efforts to tie it to the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster were "misdirected" amid media reports that the Indian government will try to extract compensation from the company.

Dow bought Union Carbide in 1999, whose local 51-percent-owned Indian unit was responsible for the catastrophic gas leak that killed thousands instantly and tens of thousands over the following years.

Union Carbide struck a 470-million-dollar out-of-court settlement with the Indian government in 1989, which absolved it of further responsibility for the medical costs or clean-up of the polluted site.

"There are some who continue to try to affix responsibility for the Bhopal tragedy to Dow, but the fact is that Dow never owned, operated, nor inherited the facility in Bhopal," company spokesman Scot Wheeler said in an email to on Monday.

He said efforts to attach responsibility to Dow "are misdirected" given that Union Carbide had sold its Indian unit at the time of its takeover by Dow.

A panel of senior Indian ministers on Monday finalised its recommendations for fresh action over the Bhopal tragedy after an upsurge in public anger over the case.

The impetus came from the first convictions earlier this month of the local managers held responsible for the leak, which focused attention on the government's much-criticised handling of the disaster.

The ministers' recommendations include pursuing the fugitive American former chief executive of Union Carbide, who is retired in the United States but wanted in India, as well as increasing compensation for victims.

Local media reports say the government will continue to pursue Dow in court for compensation as the owner of Union Carbide, and will also challenge a Supreme Court ruling that downgraded the charges faced by the managers.

"We do have sympathy for the plight of those who are victims of the tragedy and its aftermath and we would all agree that their issues do need to be addressed," Wheeler added.

"The solution to this problem, however, rests in the hands of the Indian central and state governments."