Bhopal continues to suffer from contamination, 25 years after Union Carbide disaster

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Bhopal, Dec.1 (ANI): Twenty five years after one of the most horrific industrial tragedy in which over 3000 people were killed and thousands affected, Bhopal continues to suffer as a latest report has revealed that that the Union Carbide (UCIL) has been contaminating the land and water of the city.

According to latest tests conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi based research and advocacy organisation, groundwater in areas even three kms away from the factory contains almost 40 times more pesticides than Indian standards.

In October this year, one water and eight soil samples were collected from various places inside the factory. Eleven more water samples came from locations outside, ranging from colonies next to the factory's boundary to those 3.5 km away.

All the samples collected from within the factory were found to be highly contaminated.

"The reason this is extremely worrying is because we have found the toxins in the groundwater we have checked from almost three km below the factory," said Chandra Bhushan, associate director, CSE and in-charge of the CSE laboratory.

"All 11 groundwater samples collected from colonies around the UCIL factory were found to be contaminated with chlorinated benzene compounds and organochlorine pesticides," the report said.

"The profile of chemicals found within the UCIL factory and in the waste disposal site of UCIL matches the chemicals found in the groundwater sample in the colonies outside. There is no other source of these chlorinated benzene compounds and pesticides than UCIL," added Bhusan.

Speaking at the release of the study report, Sunita Narain, Director, CSE, said inadequate planning and steps taken by the government to dispose off the chemical waste has resulted in the massive contamination.

"Our findings suggest that the entire site is highly contaminated. The waste stored within the factory is a small part of the total contamination present in the site. The focus of the government to just dispose off the stored waste and ignore the site contamination problem is, therefore, not going to solve the environmental problems from the UCIL factory," Narain said.

She highlighted that the continuous exposure to the toxic chemicals could have hazardous impact on the health of the people residing in these areas near the UCIL plant.

"The factory site in Bhopal is leading to chronic toxicity - continuous tiny exposure leading to poisoning of our bodies. This is different from acute poisoning and so the claim that the factory is not dangerous because people can touch the waste is misleading," explained Narain.

"The Indian Council for Medical Research was asked to conduct long-term epidemiological research right after the disaster, but these studies were summarily discontinued in 1994. The initial reports suggested long-term and deadly health effects on the survivors," added Bhusan. (ANI)

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