by Ellen Shifrin
Basics Issue #12 (Jan/Feb 2009)
What is Bhopal? Those of us over 40 remember – it was and remains among history’s worst industrial disasters.
On the night of December 2-3, 1984, there was an accident in the Union Carbide Chemical (UCC) plant in Bhopal, India. A highly toxic gas escaped and by morning 3000 people lay dead.
Over the next few days another 5000 people died from the gas that the American company UCC said was not dangerous. Eventually the company fled Bhopal, abandoning the site. They left behind barrels of chemicals that have been seeping into the ground ever since.
People neighbouring the site depend on pumped ground water for all their water needs. Consequently, the negligence of UCC has led to extremely high rates of cancer, children born with physical and mental disabilities, and women with severe reproductive problems.
What’s happening now? Almost a quarter of a century later, the gas and water-affected people have still not received adequate financial compensation, medical treatment, or clean drinking water. Survivors have condemned the Indian government for their inaction. They have put pressure on the US companies UCC and Dow Chemical (Dow bought UCC in 2001).
On January 26th, 2009, two student groups of Ryerson University will be hosting a public screening of the film Bhopal: The Search for Justice from 6:30-8:0pm in the Thomas Lounge (63 Gould St.), which will be accompanied by a day-long Bhopal photo exhibit from noon to 9:00pm at 55 Gould St. All are welcome to attend.