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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Agrochemical Firms Deny Pollution Story

MANHATTAN (CN) - United Phosphorus Ltd., the largest agrochemical maker in India, claims The Blacksmith Institute defamed it and tortiously interfered with its business by publishing a report accusing it of making Vapi, India, one of "the ten most polluted places in the world."

UPL and co-plaintiff James Robinson India claim the September 2007 report, "The World's Worst Polluted Places: The Top Ten of the Dirty Thirty," is "based on outdated, debunked and in many cases patently false accusations."

"Nevertheless," the complaint continues, "as a result of the report, UPL, James Robinson, and others have lost significant revenues from customers who now refuse to do business with them."

Plaintiffs cite the report, which stated: "More than 50 industrial estates discharge heavy metals, pesticides, and chemical waste. Mercury in the groundwater is 96 times higher than WHO standards. Very high incidences of cancer and birth complications have resulted."

But the plaintiff claim Blacksmith drew its conclusion from a 1994 study by the Central Pollution Control Board. "The CPCB report, however, is over 13 years old and its conclusions, therefore, are outdated," the complaint states. Plaintiffs say Blacksmith ignored "an enormous change in environmental cleanliness, industrial climate, and progress in Vapi over the last decade. ...

"Blacksmith's interference was wrongful and malicious. Every single conclusion in the Blacksmith report was materially false. Blacksmith knew or recklessly disregarded that its sources for the Blacksmith Report were inaccurate or outdated. Blacksmith also intentionally misled readers by publishing false and misleading photographs purporting to be of the waste and contaminated water in Vapi. Moreover, even when alerted to the inaccuracies and falsities contained in the report, as well as the specific damage it was causing to business entities within Vapi, including Plaintiffs, Blacksmith refused to retract any of the false information," the complaint states.

Plaintiffs are represented by Robert Steiner with Kelley Drye & Warren.

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