Gas tragedy: Toxins, birth defects plague Bhopal

Posted By: Staff
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Bhopal, Dec 2: Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, grim news greets India as various medical and advocacy groups release their findings on the present state of the accident site.

UK-based Bhopal Medical Appeal (BMA) and the Sambhavna Clinic on Tuesday, Dec 1 released a report stating that the groundwater at the accident site which is the source of drinking water for over 15 communities still remains contaminated.

The contamination continues to get worse as chemicals percolate through soil into the underground water, the report said.

While BMA found that the local water was laced with a chemical cocktail including the carcinogen carbon tetrafluoride (at 2,400 times the WHO guidelines), Sambhavan Clinic which surveyed 20,000 people found alarmingly high rates of birth defects.

Another study done by the Delhi's Centre for Science and the Environment found that the water available two miles from the factory contained pesticides at levels 40 times higher than the Indian safety standard.

Even as the government tries to prove that the accident site is safe now, these results come as a rude awakening to the condition of the accident site and its surroundings, which witnessed one of the biggest industry disasters in the history of the world.

On Dec 3, 1984,  Union Carbide pesticide plant released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, exposing more than 500,000 people to MIC and other chemicals. The initial death toll surpassed the 3,000 mark and soon the number climbed to 10,000 as more and more people fell to the deadly effects of the gas.

Almost quarter century since the disaster, the country is still trying to the completely heal the wounds left behind by the accident.

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