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From Bhopal to Bridgehampton

Protest in India last week

Protest in India last week Credit: AP

It's not often that we see a New Delhi dateline on an item in a local business blog, but Warren Anderson, a Bridgehampton resident who ran Union Carbide in 1984 at the time of the Bhopal disaster, is the target of protester outrage in India (shown above from last week). Here is the Associated Press story today.

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Cabinet has approved pushing for the
former head of Union Carbide to be extradited over the toxic gas
leak in 1984 that killed an estimated 15,000 people.
    Public ire over the world’s worst industrial disaster in the
Indian city of Bhopal resurfaced this month after a court convicted
seven former employees.
    They were found guilty of “death by negligence” and sentenced
to two years in prison. Many in India saw the verdict as far too
light a punishment for the tragedy.
    On the morning of Dec. 3, 1984, a pesticide plant run by Union
Carbide leaked about 40 tons of deadly methyl isocyanate gas into
the air of Bhopal, quickly killing about 4,000 people. Lingering
effects of the poison raised the toll to about 15,000 over the next
few years, according to government estimates. In all, at least
500,000 people were affected.
    India will renew an extradition request with U.S. authorities
for former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson, who was arrested
and quickly released when he visited India soon after the tragedy.
    Anderson’s wife, Lillian, told The Associated Press at their
Bridgehampton, New York, home last year that her elderly husband
was in poor health and had been haunted by the Bhopal disaster.
    The government will also pursue liability claims against Dow
Chemical Co., which took over Union Carbide in 2001, seven years
after Union Carbide sold its interest in the Bhopal plant.
    In 1989, Union Carbide paid $470 million in compensation to the
Indian government and said officials were responsible for the
    Midland, Michigan-based Dow maintains that the 1989 settlement
resolved the legal case. Dow Chemical says it did not own Union
Carbide at the time of the leak, and it has no liability.
    The Indian government will also spend $65 million to clean up
the factory and give the families of those killed $22,000 each.
    Union Carbide Corp. said the accident was an act of sabotage by
a disgruntled employee who was never identified. It has denied the
disaster was the result of lax safety standards or faulty plant
design, as claimed by some activists.

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