After 25 years impact of Bhopal leak lingers

December 2, 2009

Controversy still surrounds one of the world’s worst industrial accidents 25 years after an estimated 8,000 people died in the immediate aftermath of a toxic gas leak in Bhopal, India.

At around midnight on December 3, 1984, a leak at a Union Carbide plant of methyl isocyanate gas — a chemical compound used to make a pesticide marketed as Sevin led to about 50,000 people being treated for severe injuries to their eyes, lungs, and kidneys.

An estimated 15,000 to 25,000 may have later died from exposure to the gas.

Union Carbide, now part of Dow Chemical, settled a lawsuit in 1989 by paying $470 million in compensation to the Indian government. In return, the government agreed to drop criminal charges against the company.

“Union Carbide worked diligently to provide immediate and continuing aid to the victims and set up a process to resolve their claims — all of which were settled 18 years ago at the explicit direction and with the approval of the Supreme Court of India,” a statement on the Union Carbide website says, adding that in 1998 the Indian state government of Madhya Pradesh took over full responsibility for the site.

A 1999 study found that the area around the plant site was still contaminated with toxic chemicals. Bhopal residents continue to contend with the effects of the disaster, which include health problems and contaminated groundwater.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal, launched in 1994 and based in Brighton, UK, argues that survivors have not yet received meaningful medical aid.

A new report commissioned by the group found at least 16 contaminants on the Union Carbide site at levels exceeding World Health Organisation safety guidelines.

Peter Finnigan, executive secretary at the Appeal, spoke with Reuters in London about Bhopal and the April 26, 1986, Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in Ukraine.


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To have set up such a plant in a thickly populated area amounts to callousness on the part of those concerned and even a Conspiracy in Bio-weapon testing and Depopulation.In this context it should be mentioned,that there are reports,that that HIV Aids Virus has been used,in South India and Africa, as a Bio-weapon with the same intent.The plague that broke out in Surat, Gujarat, India,in the middle 90s of the last Century,for a few but deadly days,seems to be part of the Trilogy.Now two Nuclear plants are to be set up in India,and the concerned US Businesses are unwilling to sign clauses pertaining to future accidents,whereas France and Russia,have done so.

Posted by sadasivan | Report as abusive

Why should the people of the United States spend time pondering a 25 year old tragedy in India, a third world country half way around the world?Nine months after the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, I was exposed to and injured by the same chemical while teaching in a U. S. school. Over two dozen children and teachers were injured as well. During my litigation I learned that schools across the U. S. reported the same injuries. For more information see toxic-justice-a-true-storyThe United States is sitting on a ticking chemical bomb twice a big as the Bhopal tragedy. This time it is a German owned company on United States soil, threatening the life, health, economy, land, resources, and environment of U. S. people.Where is the public outrage? Why have our government leaders failed to protect the people in the United States from threats of chemical disasters? The answers may surprise you. wan/about-nancy-swan/december3isthe25tha nniversaryoftheworstindustrialdisasterin historywilltheusbenext#

Posted by Nancy Swan | Report as abusive

There is no outrage Nancy because Americans behave like Ostriches in distress.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Social comments and analytics for this post…This post was mentioned on Twitter by reutersgr8db8: After 25 years impact of Bhopal leak lingers…

Posted by uberVU – social comments | Report as abusive

US Companies have always messed up in many countries and thats the reason why many of the indian think tank are suspicious of american companies setting up nucear reactors in india. american companies loose their morality on the question of profits..

Posted by ace mccloud | Report as abusive

Ace McCloud, I believe America has had no morality to loose. Consider the treatment of native Americans and the perpetuation of slavery even after independence. The list of persecuted goes on from there. Corporations are merely exercising familiar practices that go far back in our history before the existence of the corporation.Samuel Clemons was right, “What we learn from history is that we learn absolutely nothing from history”.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

LoL, Anubis. Why don’t you tell how moral any country has ever been? Europeans like to bring up slaverey and Native American treatment. Well, let me bring up some more recent events from around the world. Germans start two World Wars, kill well over 6 million jews on top of the millions of people killed throughout Europe. Russians kill nearly twice as many other Russians in a bid to clense their nation during WW2 as well. Japanese kill millions of other asians in WW2. Chairman Mao kills as many other Chinese as Russians kill each other in WW2. Much more recent: Europeans treat Muslims worse than any where in the world. Proof: Muslims riot for almost a month in France to protest their third class citizenship in Europe. Europe is and always be a cespool. It is the moral equivalent of a San Francisco bath-house. Quit crying about American companies.

Posted by StraxusD | Report as abusive

I see huge blame on the Indian Government who accepted the settlement monies and conditions freely with DOW in wake of the accident. The Indian government has held onto the money all these years, estimated at about 300million as to date. The Indian government also took over direct and total control of the plant, within the conditions of the settlement. IF they think it is fine to have this plant, in it’s shabby condition with residential areas,blame them, not us.

Posted by di | Report as abusive