New York court rejects mediation in Bhopal gas leak case

February 12th, 2009 - 10:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Feb 12 (IANS) A New York court has rejected a request to order mediation to help resolve a lawsuit by Bhopal residents over water and soil pollution allegedly caused by the 1984 gas leak at a Union Carbide Corp plant.
The ruling by Judge John Keenan of US District Court in Manhattan was in response to objections by Union Carbide, now part of Dow Chemical Co, which says responsibility for the environmental conditions around the site lies with Indian authorities.

US attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the compensation fund for victims of the Sep 11, 2001 attacks, last month had offered to serve as a court-appointed mediator in the case for free at the request of the plaintiffs. Union Carbide opposed calls to appoint a mediator.

In light of Union Carbide’s opposition to the request and its stance that mediation in the case would be useless, “it would be counterproductive to use Mr. Feinberg’s proffered services”, Keenan said in a written ruling dated Monday.

Thousands of people died in the aftermath of the 1984 gas leak, called one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Union Carbide paid $470 million in damages to the Indian government in 1989 for victims of the gas leak.

The US pollution lawsuit got new life in November when it was revived by a federal appeals court in New York, which said the district court made a mistake by throwing it out.

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