Monday, July 7, 2008
An article entitled "Decades Later, Toxic Sludge Torments Bhopal" in the New York Times today by Somini Sengupta, discusses the continuing aftermath of the Union Carbide Bhopal disaster. The failure to clean up the mess left by the disaster is attributed both to the failure of the company and that of Indian government bureaucracy. The article reports:
Beyond who will pay for the cleanup here, the question is why 425 tons of hazardous waste — some local advocates allege there is a great deal more, buried in the factory grounds — remain here 24 years after the leak?
There are many answers. The company was allowed to dump the land on the government before it was cleaned up. Lawsuits by advocacy groups are still winding their way through the courts. And a network of often lethargic, seemingly apathetic government agencies do not always coordinate with one another.
Local children play in a "pond" filled with chemical sludge. The ground water tastes of chemicals and corrodes utensils.
Sungupta reports that Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, denies successor liability for cleaning up the mess. The Indian government is split as to what it wants Dow to do, with some arms of the government wanting the company to put money towards cleanup, and others fearing that too much pressure on the company will quell other investments by the company in India.