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Tests confirm Bhopal water still poisoned

No end in site for those calling for toxic waste to be removed

Those living in Bhopal have staged numerous protests calling for a clean-up of the site Those living in Bhopal have staged numerous protests calling for a clean-up of the site
  • ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal
  • India
  • September 26, 2012
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A toxicological research body yesterday told the Supreme Court in New Delhi that water at Bhopal, scene of the world’s worst chemical disaster in 1984, remained contaminated and unfit to drink as the dispute over who should clean up the mess rumbles on.

The report by the Indian Institute of Toxicological Research said it conducted 26 tests around the site of the former Union Carbide plant and found them to be contaminated nearly 28 years after a lethal methyl isocyanate leak killed more than 5,000 people as they slept and an estimated 25,000 afterwards.

“The lab report has vindicated our stand and we are hopeful that the government will look into the plight of the people and ensure safe drinking water for us,” said Rachna Dhingra, an activist campaigning for redress for those still affected by the tragedy.

Water contamination at the sight first surfaced in 1977, she said, but “the state government continued to ignore it.”

Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical, previously debated whether groundwater had been poisoned by the leak and has not taken responsibility for cleaning up the site, saying that it was operated by independently traded company Union Carbide India Limited. Union Carbide held a majority 50.9-percent stake in the operation.

Last week, press reports in India said German company GIZ had pulled out of a US$4.5-million contract to clean up 350 tonnes of toxic waste at the plant saying the project was too hazardous.

Rashida Bi, another activist, said that people who live in close proximity to the plant and drink the contaminated water continue to face health problems.

A senior government official who did not give his name said authorities had started laying new pipes and were doing their best to provide safe drinking water.

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