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
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
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
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
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."