The Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) has denied that new evidence released this week by plaintiffs in the Sahu II case brought against it in New York for the 1984 poison gas disaster in Bhopal, suggested that the company was responsible for the creation of contaminated water in the area.
In an email to The Hindu, a UCC spokesman, Tomm Sprick, said that the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals had recently dismissed “a nearly identical case” against UCC, Sahu I.
Earlier this week the plaintiffs said that the new evidence they released demonstrated the company’s “direct role in designing and building the pesticide plant” in question, particularly that statements by former UCC and Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) employees established that UCC “provided critical design for the plant and its waste management system and that this design caused the ongoing toxic waste problem in Bhopal”.
However, Mr. Sprick said that the court stated that documents created at the time events took place established conclusively that “no reasonable juror could find that UCC participated in the creation of the contaminated drinking water”.
Further, UCC noted, the U.S. court said, “Sahu and many others living near the Bhopal plant may well have suffered terrible and lasting injuries from a wholly preventable disaster for which someone is responsible. After nine years of contentious litigation and discovery, however, all that the evidence in this case demonstrates is that UCC is not that entity.”
Thus, UCC said in its email, declarations from plaintiffs recently obtained in the Sahu II case “adds nothing of value to this conclusive record”.
The latest comments came after Rick Herz, Counsel for the plaintiffs in the federal class-action lawsuit filed by residents of Bhopal, said, “This evidence demonstrates that Union Carbide was intimately involved in every aspect of designing and building the Bhopal plant, including the waste disposal systems.”
The Bhopal gas tragedy, considered India’s worst industrial disaster, occurred on December 2, 1984 at the UCIL pesticide plant and in its wake many thousands of people were injured from exposure to methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals and several thousands killed.
The plaintiffs in the case are said to have also sued the Madhya Pradesh government, “which now owns the Bhopal site, to compel its cooperation in the clean-up of the contamination”.