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Union Carbide Suspects Sabotage In Bhopal Disaster

August 11, 1986

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ Union Carbide’s investigation of the 1984 gas leak that killed more than 2,000 people in India is focusing on a disgruntled employee, a company spokesman says.

The Indian government has blamed the accident at the pesticide plant in Bhopal on what it alleges was faulty plant design, poor maintenance and inadequate safety features and procedures.

But Carbide spokesman Harvey Cobert said Sunday, ″Our investigations to date demonstrate that the Bhopal tragedy was a deliberate act.″

″Those investigations are now focusing on a specific individual of the Bhopal plant who was disgruntled and who had ample opportunity to deliberately inject the large amount of water into the storage tank, which caused the massive gas release,″ he said.

The Sunday Times of London reported that lawyers working for the Connecticut-based chemicals giant plan to question the unidentified employee when the case goes before a Bhopal district court later this month. Cobert said he could not confirm that.

Cobert said there was no evidence that the alleged saboteur was politically motivated. He declined to elaborate, citing the pending litigation.

According to The Sunday Times, the company is alleging that the man intended only to spoil a batch of chemicals after a quarrel with his supervisor. The newspaper said the company is suggesting that he rigged up a water hose to a storage tank and that the plan went awry.

A London-based trade publication, World Petrochemicals Analysis, was the first to report Union Carbide’s latest accusation, Cobert said. Its editor, Hifra Tandy, flew to Connecticut within the last two weeks and questioned company executives about the suspected sabotage, Cobert said.

″If Union Carbide’s story is true, then it throws new light on the cause of the disaster,″ The Sunday Times quoted Tandy as saying. ″If their allegations are untrue, then they are trying to pull a very elaborate and curious publicity hoax.″

According to the newspaper, U.S. lawyers representing Bhopal victims contend that producing an alleged saboteur in court would not relieve Union Carbide of liability.

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