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‘Chronic toxicity from Union Carbide’

A day before the Bhopal gas tragedy completes 25 years,the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment...

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal |
December 2, 2009 3:33:45 am

A day before the Bhopal gas tragedy completes 25 years,the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) claimed that chemicals dumped in the Union Carbide plant continue to contaminate land and groundwater.

The Centre came out with its findings,based on laboratory analysis of samples collected in October from the plant’s premises and surrounding areas,on Tuesday .

The Madhya Pradesh government,however,has declared the plant safe and was about to throw open its doors for the public before it backed out in view of the outcry from NGOs. Even Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh had declared that the waste stored in the plant was no longer hazardous but apologised after organisations and activists working for the gas tragedy victims criticised him for his “insensitivity.” The state government had cited reports from organisations like the NEERI and Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE).

However,CEC’s Sunita Narain said the above reports were misleading since they talked of “acute toxicity”,which meant adverse effects occurring within 14 days of administration of a substance. “It’s a case of ‘chronic toxicity’,” she said adding that continuous exposure leads to poisoning. “The claim that the factory was not dangerous because one could touch the waste was misleading because the poison takes effect slowly.”

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She said the samples collected from within the factory were highly contaminated and added that the alarming finding was that the surface water samples had a pesticide concentration of 0.2805 PPM,561 times more than the Indian standard. “The reason this is extremely worrying is because we have found the toxins in the groundwater almost three kms away,” CSE’s associate director Chandra Bhushan said.

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