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Sep 28, 2012 at 11:29am IST

Toxic waste at Bhopal union carbide plant for 30 years, groundwater contaminated

Bhopal: Solid toxic waste has been lying at the site of the gas tragedy in Bhopal, the union carbide factory, for over 30 years. A new study of groundwater in and around Bhopal reveals a high level of contamination. Activists are demanding that the state government takes action.

A solar evaporation pond in the deserted union carbide factory is aptly called 'Zehreela talaab' (poisonous pond) by the locals. Toxic waste from the factory had been pumped into the pond with the management assuring that it wouldn't affect the groundwater. But now the Indian Institute of Toxical Research has turned that assurance on its head. It gathered 26 water samples and concluded that Bhopal's groundwater is indeed contaminated.

Activists like Abdul Jabbar have been saying the same thing for years now. "10,000 metric tonnes of toxic waste is lying in these ponds. The design of the solar evaporation ponds came from the UCC America, so they cannot run away from their responsibility," Jabbar says.

The Madhya Pradesh government, too, has failed to step in and take corrective action, even as those who live around the factory are showing symptoms of diseases contracted by consuming contaminated water for years.

The residents complain that the children in the area are also suffering. "Ever since we started drinking this water we have been facing one problem or the other. Children also area always suffering from one thing or the other and medicines don't have an effect on them," said a resident, Rehman.

In the recent times, the focus has been more on the disposal of 350 metric tonnes of solid toxic waste that has been lying on the premises of the Bhopal gas disaster site after a German firm backed out from the project.

It is feared that seepage from this solar evaporation pond, particularly during the rainy season has been contaminating the ground water that is being consumed by the residents of localities around the union carbide factory. The state government till now has rejected this fear and continues to focus on the disposal of the toxic waste that is safely stored inside the factory.