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 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 implementing Union Carbide’s plan for the Bhopal 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.
“This evidence demonstrates that Union Carbide was intimately involved in every aspect of designing and building the Bhopal plant, including the waste disposal systems,” 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.
EarthRights International is a NGO with offices in the United States, Thailand, and Peru specializing in protecting human rights and the environment, and corporate and government accountability. More information on ERI is available at http://www.earthrights.org/.