Global Processing

Union Carbide says exec not to blame for Bhopal

August 3, 2009
Union Carbide is defending its former chief executive now wanted for arrest in India, saying managers could not have foreseen a gas leak at the chemical company''s Bhopal plant that killed 10,000 people 25 years ago, according to the Associated Press. An Indian court issued a warrant for former CEO Warren Anderson and ordered India''s government to press Washington for his extradition. Anderson had been arrested in India just after the disaster but left the country and now resides in New York. "Overwhelming evidence has established that the Bhopal gas release was caused by an act of employee sabotage that could not have been foreseen or prevented by the plant''s management," Union Carbide spokesman Tomm F. Sprick said in a statement. "The release had terrible consequences, but it makes no sense to continue to attempt to criminalize a tragedy that no one could have foreseen." India''s government has not acted on the court''s request yet, and U.S. authorities have not moved to extradite Anderson. Anderson, who is currently 89, was CEO of Union Carbide, now owned by Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co., when the deadly gas cloud leaked from the factory on Dec. 3, 1984. More than 555,000 people who survived the initial disaster are thought to have suffered aftereffects, though the exact number of victims has never been determined. Many have died over the years from gas-related illnesses, like lung cancer, kidney failure and liver disease. In 1989, Union Carbide paid $470 million in compensation to the Indian government and said officials were responsible for the cleanup. Victims accuse New Delhi of delaying distribution of the funds. Sprick said in the company statement that Union Carbide had no role in operating the plant at the time because India''s government required the factory be owned, managed and operated by employees of Union Carbide India Limited.