U.S. Denies Pressuring India to Drop Liability Claims
Last week, the U.S. denied pressure against India to drop the outcry against Dow Chemical, the company responsible for the chemical disaster in 1984 in the city of Bhopal, where 15,000 people were killed and over 500,000 fell ill.
At the time, tens of thousands of victims were paid a total of roughly $500 million by Union Carbide, who was later acquired by Dow Chemical. Even today, there are still many insisting that this payment is only a fraction of what it should have been for an incident with such devastating consequences.
Leaked emails from Mike Forman, the US deputy national security advisor, suggested that the Indian government to end the flap over the chemical disaster, in order to secure loans from the World Bank.
The excerpt from the email leaked by the press is as follows:
“We are hearing a lot of noise about the Dow Chemical issue. I trust you are monitoring it carefully … I think we want to avoid developments which put a chilling effect on our investment relationship,” Froman wrote.
Froman denied any type of pressure on India to drop claims again Dow Chemical. In a press conference on Thursday, Froman stated:
“I was not … issuing a ‘threat’ of any sort – any assertion to the contrary is absolutely wrong, both intent and in fact,”
Tension over the issue also rose when the US refused to extradite Warren Anderson, the former Union Carbide CEO.
U.S President Obama is set to visit India in November. The Indian government is also considering laws that will triple corporate liability in case of nuclear accident. Legislation such as this is important for the emerging Indian economy, since many US companies, such as General Electric, are reluctant to invest without the certainty of a legal framework on what liability would be if an accident took place.