By Harald Eraker
Last summer a NORAD memo enabled NorWatch to disclose the fact that Borregaard had applied for Norwegian support for the installation of a safety system at its pesticide factory Borregaard Taichang Chemicals in China.
The Chinese factory, owned 61% by Borregaard, has since it was opened by former prime minister Brundtland in 1995 manufactured the very toxic gas methylisocyanate (MIC), which is an integral part of the production process for the pesticide carbofuran.
The Bhopal accident
The same MIC gas killed over 10,000 people in the Indian town of Bhopal after a leak from Union Carbide's pesticide factory in 1984.
Borregaard's factory in China has also been strongly criticized for its manufacture of carbofuran, which was banned in Norway in 1983 (see NorWatch Nos. 1-96 and 9-97).
The NORAD memo from the Environmental Affairs Project was very critical to Borregaard's application based on expert statements concluding that the planned safety system is unreliable.
NORAD's Environmental Affairs Project thus feared that NORAD could be held reliable in the event of a gas accident at the factory in China.
NORAD turned down the application on December 10 last year, based on "strong objections from experts, and unanswered questions concerning the product (pesticide)." In its letter to Borregaard, NORAD also expresses doubt as to whether development cooperation funds should be used for projects of this nature.
Borregaard has appealed the decision to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD). Head of NORAD's Department for Industrial Cooperation, Harald Lesteberg, says NORAD has referred the matter to the UD's Bilateral Affairs Department.
Norwatch Newsletter 2/98