A Sad Day for Bhopalis and The World, US Federal Court Absolves Union Carbide – June 2013.
A Sad Day for Bhopalis and The World
US Federal Court Absolves Union Carbide – June 2013
After a 9 year Battle, the US Federal Court this month dismissed an appeal to hold Union Carbide liable for the pollution of soil and groundwater by hazardous waste generated by the abandoned factory. Survivors Groups are indignant, but not defeated. Please read the following Press Statement:
June 29 2013. Five Bhopal based organizations active on the issue of ongoing toxic contamination in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory in Bhopal today condemned the recent decision of the US Federal court that dismissed an appeal filed by a group of plaintiffs last year.
The organizations said that the decision of the Appellate court was a gross miscarriage of justice as it deliberately ignored the documentary evidence presented in court in the last nine years. The organizations said that they would now persuade the Indian government, owner of the contaminated lands, to intervene in the case pending before the US court.
Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that internal corporate documents presented before the three Appellate court “unambiguously demonstrates that Union Carbide Corporation, USA, and not its Indian subsidiary, had designed the waste disposal system in the Bhopal plant as well as supervised its operation and monitored the harmful consequences of the hazardous design.” She alleged that the judges turned a blind eye to the facts on record simply in order to avoid making American corporations accountable for crimes committed outside the U.S.
Nawab Khan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that the original case seeking clean up of the contamination by the US corporation and its former chairman remained within the New York court system and lawyers representing Bhopali plaintiffs were “exploring all options” to continue the legal fight. “It took survivors of the Nazi holocaust 50 years to obtain redress through the courts,” Mr. Khan said. “Like them, we will not give up until we receive complete justice for the wrongs done to our families.”
Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha pointed out that the U.S. judges have clarified that the decision to absolve the parent corporation, a majority partner in the Indian subsidiary, could not be cited as a precedent for other cases. “That is the best illustration of how unsure the judges themselves are about the legal validity of their decision.” he said.
The case in the U.S. Federal court concerns the pollution of soil and groundwater by hazardous waste generated in the factory that was the site of the world’s worst industrial disaster when toxic gases leaked from it in December 1984.
Louise Christian, world renowned British human rights lawyer expressing solidarity with the survivors, said “This decision to deny justice to poor and vulnerable people caused irreparable harm by big business should shame the world. The United States Appeal Court has ignored compelling evidence about the central role played by the Union Carbon Corporation based in the US in equipping overseeing and enabling the Indian offshoot of the company to produce UCC’s own product, the insecticide Sevin. UCC failed to give advice which would have ensured not only that the leak of gas itself did not happen but also prevented the contamination which has poisoned the drinking water in a large area around where the plant was.
Those who run multinational corporations should not be allowed to escape liability for grievous harm by creating complex corporate structures and hiding behind them. The paltry compensation paid in India to the victims and the failure to prosecute anyone over Bhopal is a disgrace.
The history should be reviewed by the United Nations with a view to introducing international law mechanisms for securing justice in this and other cases”.
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Children Against Dow Carbide
Contact Rachna Dhingra for more details