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BHOPAL 14 NOVEMBER 2002

BHOPAL DISASTER – CRIMINAL EVIDENCE FOUND IN CARBIDE'S SECRET PAPERS

Pressure for the extradition of US multinational Union Carbide and its ex-CEO Warren Anderson intensified massively today when plaintiffs and organisations representing survivors of the world's worst industrial disaster released a pivotal document disclosing that the company and its former boss had imposed "unproven technology" on their Bhopal factory in the critical MIC unit, from where 27 tonnes of poisonous gases escaped in 1984, killing 8,000 people in three days and more than 20,000 people to date.

Exceprt UCC04186 from Union Carbide internal memorandum dated 2 December 1973

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Speaking of this document and others, which Union Carbide was this year forced to disclose during litigation brought by Bhopal survivors in the Federal Southern District court of New York, Mrs. Rashida Bi, leader of one of the plaintiff organizations, said "these papers constitute a blueprint for the Bhopal disaster: they prove that Anderson and Carbide ordered cost-cutting in the most hazardous part of their factory, all the time knowing of the technology risks from its design and location. Though it beggars belief, they show that the decisions taken by US managers, which ultimately led to a massacre, were considered and deliberate."

Accompanying documents now publicly available for the first time reveal that Union Carbide and Anderson ordered under-investment in the highly dangerous Sevin/MIC units in order to help side-step Indian regulations requiring a dilution of foreign equity that would have endangered the company's overarching control of its Indian subsidiary, UCIL.

Exceprt UCC49140 from UCC Capital Budget Proposal, accompanying the 2 December 1973 memorandum

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In an amended complaint, H. Rajan Sharma, the attorney representing plaintiffs in the New York case, had argued how the company had taken great pains to ensure control over any subsidiaries:

"Union Carbide actually produced an internal manual 'Legal Control of a 50-50 Joint Venture Affiliate' which lists a number of 'devices or expedients' on how to retain control of an affiliate."

According to Satinath Sarangi, another representative of plaintiff organizations, the new documentary evidence confirms this: "one such 'expedient' was the MIC unit; they built it in order to retain control, they used untried technology to keep control, they under-funded it to keep control. When it turned Bhopal into a gas chamber, they said they'd had no control."

Though at the time of the disaster Union Carbide maintained that the Bhopal factory and their Institute, Virginia factory operated to the same standards and design, the new papers further reveal that the company recognised explicit differences between the two, even anticipating production problems from the use of 'unproven technology' in India.

Exceprt UCC04206 from Union Carbide Proposal accompanying memorandum of 2 December 1973

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"We now know for sure that senior Carbide officials, including Warren Anderson, not only knew about design defects and potential safety issues with the Bhopal factory, they actually authorised them," Sarangi commented.

"This is the documentary proof, the 'high standard of evidence' that the Indian Attorney General Soli Sorabjee claimed he didn't have to be able to press for Warren Anderson and Union Carbide's extradition. What we've found shows both prior knowledge and intent on the part of the accused: it is so significant that it demands the revision of the pending criminal charges in the Bhopal court."

On 11th November the representatives of the plaintiff organizations including Abdul Jabbar from Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Balkrishna Namdeo, Gas Peedit Nrashrit Morcha, Rashida Bi, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, ND Jayaprakash and E. Deenadayalan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti and Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action and others met with senior officials of the CBI and handed over these documents to them. The CBI officials acknowledged the significance of these documents and agreed to use them in the extradition and prosecution of the accused corporation and its officials including Anderson.

Mrs. Rashida Bi,
President, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh

Satinath Sarangi,
Member, Bhopal Group for Information and Action


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