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Archive for December 4th, 2009

World’s Worst Industrial Disaster [to date]

Posted by feww on December 4, 2009

Bhopal Pesticide Plant Disaster: 25 years on

This week marked the 25th anniversary of India’s Bhopal gas leak disaster with protesters demanding that those responsible for the deaths of thousands be brought to account.

Local activists attend a demonstration to mark the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster in Bhopal, December 3, 2009. Credit: REUTERS/Reinhard Krause. Image may be subject to copyright.

Survivors, campaigners and protesters ended a week of demonstrations by marching to the site of pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in Bhopal, India.

A cloud of about 30 tons of methyl isocyanate and other lethal gases escaped from the UCIL  factory turning Bhopal into a giant gas chamber and killing at least 10,000 people in less than three days, 25 years ago on December 3, 1984. All of the six safety systems at the plant had failed to function.

Location Map: Bhopal India

“The survivors of the tragedy, through these protests, are venting their ire against the state government for its inaction in clearing the toxic waste,” said the spokesman for  the Bhopal Group of Information and Action.

The soil and groundwater near the  factory site are still heavily contaminated with a lethal cocktail of chemicals, causing death, birth defects and a host of chronic illnesses among the local population.

A study by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) reported 25,000deaths as a result of  exposure to highly toxic chemicals since 1984.

Government statistics show that 100,000 people are chronically sick, with at least 30,000 others exposed to contaminated water in the areas close to the plant.

Dow Chemical, which purchased Union Carbide 10 years ago,  said UC had reached a $470 million settlement with the Indian government in 1989, which had “resolved all existing and future claims” against the company.

The state government of Madhya Pradesh assumed responsibility for the site in 1998, but it has failed to remove the thousands of tons of toxic materials from the area  surrounding the plant because, it claims,  the material is not hazardous.

The Indian government maintains that toxic contaminants no longer leak from the factory and denies  any toxins exists anywhere near the site.

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Posted in Bhopal Group of Information and Action, gas chamber, Indian Council for Medical Research, Indian government, Madhya Pradesh | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »