Union Carbide, Anderson freed from Bhopal taint

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • |
  • Updated: Jun 29, 2012 11:06 IST
  • Bhopal Gas tragedy

    Survivors of the Bhopal Gas tragedy demonstrating outside the district court in Bhopal on Monday.

  • World Press

    The World Press Photo of the Year (1984) shows a child killed by the poisonous gas leak in the Union Carbide chemical plant disaster.

  • Vijay Gokhale

    Vijay Gokhale, the then (1984) Managing Director of Union Carbide India Limited, coming out of Bhopal District Court after getting bail on Monday evening following ...

  • Union Carbide chemical pesticide leak

    In this December 5, 1984 file photo, two men carry children blinded by the Union Carbide chemical pesticide leak to a hospital in Bhopal.

  • Warren Anderson

    In this December 10, 1984 file photo, Warren Anderson, the head of Union Carbide Corp. at the time of the gas leak from its plant ...

  • Keshub Mahindra

    Keshub Mahindra, the then (1984) Chairman of Union Carbide India Limited, coming out of Bhopal District Court after getting bail following his conviction in the ...

  • Elderly survivors

    Elderly survivors hold posters as they wait for the verdict in Bhopal.

  • Union Carbide

    A file picture of the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in 1984.

  • Dow Chemical Company

    A young boy protests against Dow Chemical Company in Bhopal.

  • Union Carbide factory

    The rundown Union Carbide factory, which had leaked gas killing thousands in 1984, as seen now.

A US court has ruled that neither Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) nor its former chairman Warren Anderson were liable for environmental remediation (reversing or stopping environmental damage) or pollution-related claims by those living around its now-defunct plant in Bhopal, where a gas leak in 1984 killed thousands of people.

US district judge John Keenan in Manhattan on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by Bhopal residents seeking to hold UCC, which is now owned by Dow Chemicals, and Andersen responsible for injuries caused by toxic waste from the plant.

The court ruled that it was Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), and not its parent company UCC, that was responsible for the generation and disposal of the waste that polluted drinking water, and that the liability rests with the state government, according to wire reports.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/6/29-06-pg1a.jpg

Victims of the gas disaster and organisations working with them said they were expecting such a judgment, with the London Olympics — in which the present owner of UCC, Dow Chemicals, is a sponsor — one month away.

They also said the order was not surprising considering that the US district judge was hearing the lawsuit after dismissing it thrice on various grounds.

Keenan wrote in his order, “The plaintiffs embarked on a discovery expedition that was worthy of Vasco da Gama. More than two years and 12,000 pages of discovery later, defendants renewed their motion for summary judgment as to all theories of liability.”

Ten years after the tragedy, UCC sold its stake in UCIL, which changed its name to Eveready Industries India Ltd.

UCC said in a statement on Wednesday, “The court decision not only dismisses the plaintiffs’ claims against UCC, but also clarifies that UCC has no liability related to the plant site and further acknowledges the matter of site ownership and liability as being the responsibility of the state government of Madhya Pradesh.”
Plaintiffs Janki Bai Sahu and others had alleged that “toxic substances seeped into a ground aquifer, polluting the soil and drinking water supply in residential communities surrounding the former Bhopal plant site”.

They alleged that exposure to soil and drinking water polluted by hazardous waste produced UCIL caused injuries.

“The summary judgment record certainly indicates that UCIL consulted with UCC about its waste disposal plans and on non-environmental business matters like its strategic plan.

However, nothing in the evidence suggests the necessity of UCC's approval for the actions about which plaintiffs complain,” the court said in its order.

On May 11, 2011, India’s Supreme Court dismissed CBI petitions on enhancement of punishment of two years in jail and recall of the apex court’s 1996 judgment which had watered down serious charges slapped by the trial court on the accused.


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