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Bhopal tragedy: Victims move higher US court against UCC

Dec 17, 2014

Earlier, a district court said that Union Carbide could not be used for cleaning up the mess left after the Bhopal gas tragedy.

New Delhi: EarthRights International, a US based organisation representing thousands of 1984 Bhopal gas plant disaster victims has filed an appeal on November 20 with second Circuit Appellate in New York to overturn a July ruling which absolves the Union Carbide Corporation of any wrongdoing in the industrial accident.

Earlier in July, a U S District court who had ruled in favour of Carbide in three previous cases relating to the tragedy, had held that the plant was built, owned and operated by an Indian subsidiary , Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL)' therefore parent company could not be used to clean up the mess.

Similarly, the court had ruled that the Madhya Pradesh government and Union Carbide were not responsible for stemming the ongoing contamination of groundwater.

Incidentally, district judge, Keenan ruled that the onsite project manager of the company at the time of accident, Lucas John Couvaras could not depose.

He is presently living in Houston and retired. He told EarthRights International that he was employed by the Union Carbide not UCIl
If Couvaras is found to be a Union Carbide employee, everything that happened in 1984 in Bhopal would hold parent company as responsible for the gas plant tragedy.

According to the EarthRights spokesperson, Rick Herz, hopefully an appellate court would reverse the Keenan's July ruling.
Meanwhile, Beyond Holistic, a social organization held a week-long demonstration throughout San Francisco Bay Area to commemorate the tragic disaster.

The founder of the organization, Jayshree Chander, an Indian American, Califonian physician, who has spent time volunteering at a clinic for survivors of the accident which occurred in 1984' told OWSA, that Union Carbide abandoned the factory soon after the deadly leak and did nothing to clean up the mess, allowing toxic chemicals to seep into the city's fgroundwater supply.

No concrete efforts have been made to clean up toxic waste from the factory which has poisoned the groundwater in a 3.5 kilometer area around the now-shuttered plant. Later on Union Carbide became a subsidiary of Dow Chemicals in 2001.

"Global community has not held corporations accountable for their actions," said Chander, adding that a 1989 out-of-court settlement of $ 470 million allotted only $500 to families of those killed by the disaster and $200 to each injured, Adequate compensation was not delivered,, she asserted.

A new Modi government will prioritize bringing in foreign investors, perhaps over and above the health and safety of India's residents, she speculated.

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