BHOPAL, India (AFP) – Survivors of the Bhopal gas leak in India on Thursday marked 25 years since the world’s worst industrial accident with rallies demanding those to blame for thousands of deaths finally face justice. Residents and activists capped a week of commemorations with a march to the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, where on December 3, 1984 a cloud of methyl isocyanate killed up to 10,000 people in three days.
Studies released earlier this week showed the shanty towns surrounding the site were still laced with lethal chemicals that are polluting groundwater and soil, causing birth defects and a range of chronic illnesses. “The survivors of the tragedy, through these protests, are venting their ire against the state government for its inaction in clearing the toxic waste,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group of Information and Action.
Research by the Indian Council for Medical Research showed 25,000 people had died from the consequences of exposure since 1984. After those studies concluded, government statistics said 100,000 people were chronically sick, with more than 30,000 people living in areas around the factory where water was contaminated.
Criminal cases against former Union Carbide executives are pending in various Indian and US courts which hold them and Dow liable for the catastrophe. Amnesty International called on Dow to “cooperate fully in the ongoing legal proceedings in order to ensure that those responsible are held accountable”.