Union Carbide Corporation Dismissed in Sahu Case; Court Concludes Neither Union Carbide Corporation Nor Former Chairman Liable
HOUSTON (BUSINESS WIRE) - A federal court in New York yesterday unambiguously concluded that Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) is not liable for any environmental remediation or pollution-related claims made by residents near the Bhopal plant site in India, which was formerly owned and operated by Union Carbide India Limited (an entity once owned by UCC).
After many years of pending litigation and exhaustive discovery, United States District Court Judge John F. Keenan issued a comprehensive decision rejecting all of the class action Indian plaintiffs' arguments seeking to extend liability to UCC and, instead, dismissed all claims against UCC and its former Chairman Warren Anderson.
In his written opinion, Judge Keenan concluded that - even when viewing the evidence in the most favorable light for the plaintiffs - UCC is not directly liable, nor liable as an agent of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), nor liable under a veil-piercing analysis. The court concluded that "It is beyond dispute that Union Carbide India Limited" - and not UCC - "generated and disposed of the waste which allegedly polluted plaintiffs' drinking water." Additionally, the Court found that UCC did not direct remediation efforts that occurred after the Bhopal plant was closed by the Indian Government.
The Bhopal plant was designed, owned, operated and managed on a day-to-day basis by UCIL, an Indian company in which UCC held just over half the stock. After the 1984 Bhopal Gas release disaster, plant owner UCIL obtained permission from the government to conduct clean-up work at the site and did so under the direction of Indian central and state government authorities. In 1994, UCC sold its stake in UCIL and UCIL subsequently changed its name to Eveready Industries India, Ltd. (which still conducts business in India today). Eveready Industries continued to hold a lease for the site until 1998, at which time the State Government of Madhya Pradesh terminated Eveready Industries' lease, took over the facility and assumed all accountability for the site, including the completion of any additional remediation.
In summary, yesterday's court decision not only dismisses plaintiffs' claims against UCC, but also clarifies that UCC has no liability related to the plant site and further acknowledges the matter of site ownership and liability as being the responsibility of the State Government of Madhya Pradesh.
About Union Carbide
Union Carbide Corporation is a chemical and polymers company with over 2,400 employees. The company possesses some of the industry's most advanced process and catalyst technologies, and operates some of the most cost-efficient, large-scale production facilities in the world. Union Carbide primarily produces chemicals and polymers that undergo one or more further conversions by customers before reaching consumers. The end-uses served include paints and coatings, packaging, wire and cable, household products, personal care, pharmaceuticals, automotive, textiles, agriculture and oil and gas. Union Carbide Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and an important part of the Dow family of companies. More information can be found at www.unioncarbide.com.