US Case - In Court

Published: Friday 15 September 2006

Setback for Bhopal victims: In a major setback to the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, the US court of appeals for the Second Circuit in New York has rejected their plea against Union Carbide Corporation for compensation and cleanup of hazardous waste from its plant site.

The petition was filed by Hasina Bi and 14 others who had challenged an October 2005 judgement of New York's district court that had turned down her suit for damages against Dow Chemicals, the present owner of Union Carbide in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The chemical plant was shut down after deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaked from it on December 3, 1984 killing 2,660 people and seriously affecting another 200,000.

The court rejected the petition saying that Hasina Bi's claim for public nuisance fails because she has not alleged any special injury or damages "beyond that of the general inconvenience to the public at large". Besides, "Bi resides illegally on a government-owned ground and, therefore, cannot sustain claim for trespass or private nuisance under New York law," the judges said. Uphelding the district court's observation, judges also said that any cleanup of the aquifer or groundwater would affect the public generally and could not be undertaken without the permission and supervision of the Indian government.

Delinquent enforcement: A US federal court has found the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to protect public health from toxic air pollution to be "grossly delinquent". Ruling on a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club against EPA Administrator, the US district court for the District of Columbia ordered the EPA to issue dozens of overdue air toxics controls. The court's decision follows a government report, which found that EPA had failed to set any limit on the poisonous emissions from smaller industrial sources.

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