‘Water around the Union Carbide factory is hazardous’ scientists inform Supreme Court

Women gather highly contaminated water from ground-water pumps in Bhopal. No clean alternative is being provided. The Dow Chemical company, who own Union carbide, claim that clean water for the world's poor is a priority for them.

Photograph © Jack Laurenson

The Supreme Court in Delhi today has been told by scientists today that ground water from the former pesticide plant is dangerously contaminated and not fit for human consumption.

The Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) presented their report which was made up of 26 samples recently collected from around the factory which has been abandoned since the 1984 gas leak which killed upwards of 15,000 people. More than 120,000 people still suffer from debilitating illnesses caused by the leak and the subsequent pollution at the plant site.

Survivors’ organisations and international solidarity groups have been campaigning for the Indian government to carry out a full remediation of the site which continues to leak dangerous chemicals into the water supplies of many local residents.

The samples showed the amounts of chlorine and nitrate had reached unacceptable levels that were hazardous to the health of those living close to the factory. Campaigners have stressed that the levels of contamination revealed in the report may appear lower than actual levels because the water was tested during the monsoon season which can produce misleading results.

A second stage of the report will be carried out during October. This will  involve scientists drilling down into the ground below the factory to gather more samples. These findings will be presented to the court within the next three months.

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.