Sustained Outrage

Tours of Bhopal disaster site bring outrage

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Plans for tours of the former Union Carbide plant that caused the chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, in December 1984, are being labeled as dangerous and “foolish,” according to a news story in the U.K. Telegraph.

Thousands of people died and many more injured by the leak of deadly methyl isocyanate gas at the Carbide plant.

Here in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia, Bayer CropScience still maintains a huge stockpile of MIC. The company has promised major cuts in that stockpile, but Congress has ordered a study of whether Bayer could get rid of its MIC altogether.

According to the Telegraph story on the Bhopal tours:

The idea to open the site to the public was designed to dispel fears about the safety of the blackened factory which still looms over the city’s slums, but locals are not convinced. 

… But Komal Singh, a 45-year-old survivor, told AFP it would be “ridiculous to expose people to this danger once again”, while campaigners in the Bhopal Group of Information and Action also attacked Gaur.

“Mr Gaur is neither a scientist nor a man with common sense because there are still 24 deposits of high toxic material inside the plant,” the group’s spokeswoman, Rachna Dinghra, told AFP.

Amsterdam-based environmental group Greenpeace joined the chorus of condemnation.

Vinuta Gopal, spokeswoman of the Indian chapter of Greenpeace, labelled the programme “foolish”.

“It is the most foolish thing to do and it shows that despite all these years we have not understood the gravity of hazardous waste issues in India that this plant represents,” Gopal said.