Tim Edwards (Managing Trustee The Bhopal Medical Appeal)
UnIon Carbide's Toxic Gas Release
"The Union Carbide pesticide factory released a huge cloud of toxic gases that drifted straight into the densely populated heart of the old city of Bhopal...when it reached the communities it caused utter devastation with bodies flailing in its wake."
On the night of December 2nd, 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate. None of the six safety systems designed to contain such a leak were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city of Bhopal. Half a million people were exposed to the gas and over 25,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure.
Over 150,000 chronically ill survivors are in desperate need of medical attention. While official figures report well over 5000 deaths attributable to exposure, a government agency – the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies in Bhopal – reports 2165 deaths attributable to toxic exposure in the year 1997 alone. Unofficial and more correct estimates place the current death toll at over 25,000.
The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) claims that all legal matters concerning the Bhopal disaster are closed. This is simply not true. Dow is a named respondent and/ or summoned to appear in a number of ongoing cases arising from Union Carbide’s business in Bhopal.
These include criminal proceedings for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” were launched against US-based Union Carbide Corporation in 1984. The case against UCC continues to this day because the company has never appeared before the Indian courts to answer the charges against it.
The true impact of the Bhopal Disaster can never be fully be comprehended, as tens of thousands of families carry their experience of loss. Nursing the breadwinner of the family to their early death, spending what little you have on relief, transfixed by the memory of a lost child, brother, sister, mother, father, or in some cases an entire family.