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Carbide responsible for Bhopal plant, new evidence shows

New York, Feb 6 (IANS) Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Union Carbide Corp (UCC) have released new evidence to show its “direct role in designing and building the pesticide plant in Bhopal” where the 1984 gas disaster killed thousands.

Union Carbide, now a Dow Chemical subsidiary, refuses to clean up the site claiming that its former Indian subsidiary bears sole responsibility for the now shuttered plant in Bhopal.

The victims have sued the Madhya Pradesh government which leased the land on which the plant was built for clean up of the contaminated site which they say has polluted the drinking water supply of nearby areas, according to a statement by EarthRights International.

The new evidence, consisting of statements from former Union Carbide and Union Carbide India employees as well as evaluations by experts in waste disposal systems, establishes that UCC provided critical design for the plant and its waste management system and that this design had caused the ongoing toxic waste problem in Bhopal.

Plaintiffs’ evidence released Wednesday also shows that it was a Union Carbide employee who oversaw and approved construction and design of Union Carbide’s plan for the plant.

A deadly gas leak from the Bhopal plant in December 1984 killed hundreds instantly and has continued to claim lives, taking the death toll till now to thousands.

Thousands more have suffered irreparable damage on the health front.

The evidence was submitted in court in January in a federal class action lawsuit filed by residents of Bhopal whose land and water remain contaminated by waste from the chemical plant.

A previous lawsuit was dismissed last year after the courts found insufficient evidence that Union Carbide was sufficiently involved in creating the toxic waste, said the statement.

“This evidence demonstrates that Union Carbide was intimately involved in every aspect of designing and building the Bhopal plant, including the waste disposal systems that caused the pollution,” said Rick Herz, counsel for the plaintiffs and litigation coordinator for EarthRights International.

Co-counsel Rajan Sharma of the New York law firm Sharma and Deyoung, added: “These families have been living with Union Carbide pollution for decades and they deserve justice.

“Union Carbide refuses to submit to the jurisdiction of India’s courts and asserts that American courts may not grant relief without the participation of the Indian government.”

The plaintiffs have also sued the state of Madhya Pradesh, which now owns the Bhopal site, to compel its cooperation in the clean up of the contamination. As of today, neither the government of India nor the state of Madhya Pradesh has appeared before the court.

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