- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Indian authorities who want the extradition of former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson, the primary accused and declared absconder in the Bhopal gas leak case, wouldn’t have to search too hard for him: He reportedly has been living in the Hamptons in the years since the world’s worst industrial accident killed 15,000 and injured 500,000.

Greenpeace activist Casey Harrell in 2002 tracked down Mr. Anderson to a home in Bridgehampton, N.Y., and confronted him about the Bhopal disaster. “He had no comment and ran inside his house,” Mr. Harrell said. “He’s not hiding at all, as there is no pressure on or from the U.S. government to find him.”

Activists who have visited Mr. Anderson’s New York state home in recent months say he still lives there. Mr. Anderson also owns a home in Vero Beach, Fla.

An Indian court on Monday convicted seven surviving former managers of Union Carbide Corp.’s Indian subsidiary of negligent homicide and sentenced them to two years in prison each for their part in the gas leak.

But Mr. Anderson, who is identified as the primary defendant and an absconder by an Indian court, was not tried in absentia, sparking outrage among survivors of the world’s worst industrial accident.

Indian Law Minister Veerappa Moily said this week that his government does not consider the case against Mr. Anderson closed and that the former Union Carbide official “can be obtained.”

In July, the chief judicial magistrate of Bhopal ordered India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to arrest Mr. Anderson and produce him before the court without delay.

A similar order was issued in 1992. However, the Indian government made its first extradition request to the Justice Department in 2003. The U.S. rejected the request on technical grounds. The CBI has not sought extradition of Mr. Anderson since the July order.

Justice spokeswoman Laura E. Sweeney said the department “doesn’t confirm or comment on matters of extradition, unless and until an individual is on the soil of the country that requested it.”

Nityanand Jayaraman of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, an India-based victims advocacy group, said Indian authorities have been provided information on Mr. Anderson’s whereabouts but so far there has been “no reaction.”

“The government of India is extremely skittish when it comes to displeasing American corporations,” said Mr. Jayaraman.

Mr. Anderson was briefly arrested on Dec. 7, 1984, and was released on bail soon after.

A former CBI official, B.R. Lall, told an Indian TV channel this week that the bureau had been ordered by India’s foreign ministry soon after the incident not to pursue the case against Mr. Anderson. But former CBI chief K Vijay Rama Rao rebutted the claim.

Mr. Anderson has never appeared in court to face charges for crimes in Bhopal or even to explain why his company did not apply the same safety standards at its plant in India as it had at a sister plant in West Virginia.

Union Carbide officials say its $470 million settlement with the government of India in 1989 covered all claims arising from the Bhopal case and all Union Carbide directors, officers and employees, including Mr. Anderson.

Union Carbide Corp. was acquired by Dow Chemical in 2001.

Union Carbide and its officials were not part of the recent court case, since the original charges were divided into separate cases many years ago. This case involved the subsidiary Union Carbide India Ltd. and its officers as they managed the plant and operated it on a daily basis, said Dow spokesman Scot Wheeler.

Mr. Wheeler said Union Carbide Corp. “remains a separate company today with its own board of directors and long ago exercised its right not to appear in the Bhopal criminal proceedings as the court did not have jurisdiction over them.”

“We have sympathy for the plight of those who are victims of the tragedy and its aftermath. We would all agree that their issues do need to be addressed,” he said. “The solution to this problem, however, rests in the hands of the Indian central and state governments.”

Union Carbide Corp. sold its assets in India to an Indian company that changed Union Carbide India Ltd.’s name to Eveready Industries India Ltd. The site of the accident is now owned by a state government in India.