New York: Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Union Carbide Corp. (UDC) for the 1984 Bhopal gas leak tragedy released new evidence Wednesday that demonstrates the company's "direct role in designing and building the pesticide plant in Bhopal, India".
Union Carbide, now a Dow Chemical subsidiary, refuses to clean up the site, claiming that its former Indian subsidiary bears sole responsibility.
Soldiers guard the entrance of Union Carbide factory on December 04, 1984 in Bhopal following the gas tragedy. File pic/AFP
The victims have recently sued the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, which leased the land on which the Bhopal plant was built, for cleanup of the contaminated site which has polluted the drinking water supply of nearby residential areas, according to a release 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 has caused the ongoing toxic waste problem in Bhopal.
Plaintiffs' evidence also shows that it was a Union Carbide employee that oversaw and approved construction and design implanting Union Carbide's plan for the plant. A deadly gas leak from the Bhopal plant in 1984 killed several thousand people, and injured many thousands more.
This evidence was submitted in court in January in Sahu II v. Union Carbide Corp., 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, Sahu I, 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 & 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 Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, which now owns the Bhopal site, to compel its cooperation in the cleanup of the contamination. As of today, neither the Government of India nor the state of Madhya Pradesh has appeared before the court.
The Sahu II lawsuit is No. 07 Civ 2156 in the Southern District of New York. In addition to EarthRights International and Sharma & Deyoung LLP, the plaintiffs are represented by the Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko.