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Sahu v. Union Carbide Corp.

Citation: 43 ELR 20147
No. 12-2983, (2d Cir., 06/27/2013)

The Second Circuit affirmed a lower court's grant of summary judgment in favor of a chemical manufacturing company sued by several individuals seeking to recover from injuries allegedly caused by their exposure to soil and drinking water polluted by hazardous wastes produced at a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, formerly owned by the company. The individuals claimed that hazardous waste from the plant escaped into the ground, contaminating the soil and wells in the surrounding area. They further alleged that because local residents had no choice but to continue to use the water from these wells, over time they suffered ailments including reproductive and neurological impairments, respiratory tract irritation, skin lesions, headaches, and cancers. But the individuals failed to demonstrate that the company played a sufficiently direct role in causing the hazardous wastes to seep into the ground. No reasonable juror could find that the company participated in the creation of the contaminated drinking water. Neither the company's approval of the plan to "back-integrate" the plant, nor its transfer of technology for pesticide manufacture, nor its designs for a waste disposal system, nor its limited involvement in remediation amount to participation in the failure of evaporation ponds to contain the hazardous waste.