Union Carbide in India --
Bhopal Suffering Continues


As many as 50,000 of the world's worst industrial disaster may be partially or totally disabled according to a report released in December.

The International Medical Commission on Bhopal (IMCB) presented its report at a colloquium at the New York University Medical Center in New York City. The report was released on the twelfth anniversary of the gas leak from the Union Carbide pesticide facility in Bhopal, India.

The Commission found neurotoxicological damage and post-traumatic stress syndrome as major causes of continuing suffering by the survivors.

The IMCB is an independent commission of I5 medical professionals from 12 countries who went to Bhopal in 1994 to chronicle the long-term health consequences of the gas leak from the Union Carbide facility.

The Commission characterizes the Bhopal disaster as "a tragic model of an industrially induced epidemic." It concludes that the survivors' disabilities, having persisted for more than 10 years, are likely to be permanent.

Dr. Rosalie Bertell, a Toronto epidemiologist who headed the Commission, says that officials in India "didn't register anyone under the age of 18, as gas victims."

"There is no recognition of their illness and no compensation," Bertell says. "Some of them are clearly suffering from permanent disabilities."

The Commission recommends the establishment of community health centers in Bhopal with full-time staff and free access to continuous care, health monitoring and well-developed treatment protocols designed for victims of gas exposure.

The gas leak in Bhopal killed an estimated 2,000 to 5,000 persons. Noting that Union Carbide Corporation failed to respond to repeated summons to appear before a court in Bhopal to face criminal charges of culpable homicide, the Commission "publicly and clearly" condemned the company for what it calls the company's failure to meet its "ethical responsibility of restitution for its part in this industrially induced disaster."

Environment watch