Where is Bhopal?
Bhopal is a city in central India, and the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is roughly 360 miles south of the Indian capital, New Delhi, and has a population today that approaches 1.5 million. Bhopal's population was only 850,000 in 1984 when, as a result of the Union Carbide gas leak, half a million people were exposed to deadly chemicals.
What happened in Bhopal?
On December 3rd, 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India, were gassed to death after a catastrophic chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant. More than 150,000 people were left severely disabled - of whom 22,000 have since died of their injuries - in a disaster now widely acknowledged as the world's worst-ever industrial disaster.
More than 27 tons of methyl isocyanate and other deadly gases turned Bhopal into a gas chamber. None of the six safety systems at the plant were functional, and Union Carbideâ€™s own documents prove the company designed the plant with â€œunprovenâ€ and â€œuntestedâ€ technology, and cut corners on safety and maintenance in order to save money.
Today, twenty years after the Bhopal disaster, at least 50,000 people are too sick to work for a living, and a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed that the children of gas-affected parents are themselves afflicted by Carbide's poison.
Carbide is still killing in Bhopal. The chemicals that Carbide abandoned in and around their Bhopal factory have contaminated the drinking water of 20,000 people. Testing published in a 2002 report revealed poisons such as 1,3,5 trichlorobenzene, dichloromethane, chloroform, lead and mercury in the breast milk of nursing women living near the factory.
Although Dow Chemical acquired Carbide's liabilities when it purchased the company in 2001, it still refuses to address its liabilities in Bhopal - or even admit that they exist. Till date, Dow-Carbide has refused to:
- Clean up the site, which continues to contaminate those near it, or to provide just compensation for those who have been injured or made ill by this poison;
- Fund medical care, health monitoring and necessary research studies, or even to provide all the information it has on the leaked gases and their medical consequences;
- Provide alternate livelihood opportunities to victims who can not pursue their usual trade because of their exposure-induced illnesses;
- Stand trial before the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court in Bhopal, where Union Carbide faces criminal charges of culpable homicide (manslaughter), and has fled these charges for the past 15 years.
For more information go to http://www.studentsforbhopal.org/WhatHappened.htm