Union Carbide India, Limited


Union Carbide India, Limited

Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) was an American chemical company established in 1934, eventually expanding to employ 9,000 people working at 14 plants in five divisions. [cite web|url=http://www.bhopal.com/chrono.htm|title=History of UCIL|accessdate=2008-05-05] UCIL was owned by Union Carbide Corporation (51%) and Indian investors (49%), including the Government of India. UCIL produced batteries, carbon products, welding equipment, plastics, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and marine products.

In 1970 UCIL built a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, which gained world-wide attention as a result of the tragic chemical disaster in December 1984. The Bhopal Disaster involving a massive release of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, resulted in the death or injury of thousands of people in the surrounding residential areas. At the time of the disaster UCIL was ranked twenty-first in size among companies operating in India. It had revenues of Rs 2 billion (then equivalent to US$170 million).

In November 1994, UCC completed the sale of its 50.9% interest in UCIL to McLeod Russel Ltd. of Calcutta, a part of the Williamson Magor Group. UCIL was subsequently renamed Eveready Industries India Ltd. (EIIL).

Impact of the Bhopal Disaster

Union Carbide India Ltd. maintained a low profile in the post-Bhopal period. The Chairman, Keshub Mahindra, and the Bhopal Factory Manager, J. Mukund, moved on to new positions. Most of the Bhopal plant managers left the company after the plant closed. The company steered clear of lawsuits between the parent company and the Government of India, and concentrated on managing other businesses in India. UCIL closed the pesticide plant and reduced the Research and Development Center in Bhopal to a skeleton staff.

Following the tragedy, the Government of India took complete control of the property. In the years that followed and under very close supervision by the Government, UCIL undertook significant effort to remediate the site. This work was not completed prior to the time in 1994 when Union Carbide sold its shares in UCIL to McLeod Russell, a part of the Williamson Magor Group. UCIL was subsequently renamed Eveready Industries India Ltd. (EIIL). As part of this transaction, EIIL became the leaser of the property and assumed full responsibility for the environmental clean up of the site. In the years that followed, EIIL continued to remediate the site under close supervision by the Government of India.

On January 14, 1987 , the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a decision by the U.S. District Court to send the legal case against Union Carbide to India and reaffirmed that UCIL, which operated the Bhopal plant, was a separate and independent legal entity that was managed and staffed by Indian citizens.

In February 1989, the Supreme Court of India directed UCC and UCIL to pay a total of $470 million in full settlement of all claims arising from the tragedy. The government, UCC and UCIL agreed and the two companies paid in full on February 24.

In 1998, the government of Madhya Pradesh (the state government where Bhopal is located) revoked EIIL's lease on the property and took responsibility for the property "as is" stating, "The State Government (Madhya Pradesh) will ensure the safe disposal of the residual Sevin tar and napthol tar from the factory.”

References

External links

* [http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press/reports/the-bhopal-legacy-toxic-cont/ Greenpeace.org on UCIL Pesticide Plant]
* [http://www.bhopal.net/ International Campaign For Justice For The Victims Of The Bhopal Disaster]


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