Blast Kills Three at Coke Bottler in India
Wall Street Journal
June 27, 2010

An explosion at an Indian Coca-Cola bottling plant killed three workers in the Eastern state of Orissa on Friday.

Three employees of a boiler services firm, Steamax Fuel Supplier, were killed and five others were injured Friday by boiler explosion at the Khurda plant of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd.

Local police detained three officials from the bottler for questioning and then released them over the weekend. They are investigating the cause of the explosion.

"The boiler was in good working condition and was last inspected and approved by the Directorate of Factories and Boilers in December 2009," according to a news release from Hindustan Coca-Cola. "The plant has been closed since the date of the accident in order to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause."

Coca-Cola has become the target of anti-globalization and pro-environment groups, which have accused its bottling factories of everything from hogging much-needed ground water to pollution.

Meanwhile, India recently has become more sensitive to damage done by foreign factories.

Last week, India approved measures to raise compensation for victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, pursue an acknowledgment of liability from Dow Chemical Co. and pressure the U.S. to extradite former Union Carbide India Ltd. Chairman Warren Anderson.

The government's move was in response to political pressure from victims and the Indian media after a much-delayed verdict earlier this month sentenced seven former officials of Union Carbide to only two years imprisonment for causing the death and suffering of thousands. The verdict, 26 years after the tragedy, was criticized as being too weak, and has led to a re-examination of the liability of foreign companies that operate in India, among other issues.

The perceived failure of justice has rankled citizens in India recently as the U.S. has been able to get BP PLC to pledge more than $20 billion for the damages and clean up of the April 20 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

—Arlene Chang contributed to this article.

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