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Dow Chemical: Liable for Bhopal?

The 1984 disaster was Union Carbide's fault, but many Indians want to hold Dow accountable
Bhopal survivors and supporters demonstrate in New Delhi
Bhopal survivors and supporters demonstrate in New Delhi Money Sharma/EPA/Corbis

For nearly a quarter century, the name Bhopal has been synonymous with the dangers of industrialization. In the wee hours of Dec. 3, 1984, a toxic gas leaked from a pesticide plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal. Since then, some 20,000 people have died from the contamination, including thousands on the day of the disaster.

Today, Bhopal is also coming to mean endless litigation. Although a civil case on compensation for victims was settled 19 years ago, Indian courts have yet to rule on several other issues involving Bhopal. And the continued legal wrangling now threatens to trip up a company that had nothing to do with Bhopal in the first place: Dow Chemical (DOW).