The UN Wants to Survey the Bhopal Site. We Hope They Do.

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Previous studies have found that toxins from the plant have contaminated wells averaging twelve—and ranging up to fifty-nine—times the legal limit.

In December of 1984, a poison gas leak at a Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) subsidiary’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, India killed thousands of local residents. The plant never reopened, but now, over 30 years later,  toxins from the plant still leach into the drinking water of tens of thousands of people.

Over the last 15 years, EarthRights International and our colleagues have sought justice for water contamination in a series of lawsuits brought on behalf of victims against Union Carbide. We recently presented new evidence that demonstrates that UCC caused the contamination by providing its subsidiary with unfit technology and a flawed, high-risk waste disposal strategy.

Just last week, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) offered to conduct a comprehensive scientific survey of the spread of the toxins from the plant. [pullquote] Previous studies have found that toxins from the plant have contaminated wells up to three kilometers away at levels averaging twelve—and ranging up to fifty-nine—times the legal limit. [/pullquote]

We are hopeful that the Indian government will accept UNEP’s offer so local residents can get a fuller understanding of the scope of the problem UCC created.

At the same time, we are optimistic that the Second Circuit will recognize that the plaintiff’s evidence shows UCC is responsible, and will therefore allow a jury to determine whether UCC is liable for polluting Bhopal’s water supply.

Image by Jack Laurenson

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