'Bhopal gas survivors still poisoned'

Groundwater within 3 km radius of factory polluted: Study


“Latest tests show that groundwater in areas even three km from the factory contains almost 40 times more pesticides than Indian standards,” CSE Director Sunita Narain said here on Tuesday, a day before the 25th anniversary of the gas leak that killed 3,500 people at once and maimed thousands more.

The pollution monitoring lab of the CSE has tested water and soil samples from in and around the closed factory and found high concentrations of pesticides and heavy metals inside the factory as well as in the groundwater outside.

“One water and eight soil samples were collected from various places inside the factory in October this year and 11 more water samples came from locations outside — from colonies next to the factory’s boundary to those 3.5 km away and toxins were found in the groundwater checked from almost 3 km from the factory,” CSE Associate Director Chandra Bhushan said.

“All 11 groundwater samples collected from colonies around the factory were found to be contaminated with chlorinated benzene and organochlorine pesticides. Carbamates were found in four samples. The concentration of pesticides was 1.1 to 38.6 times higher than the Indian standard,” he said. “Also, the profile of chemicals found within the factory and in its waste disposal site matched the chemicals found in the groundwater sample in the colonies outside. There is no other source of these chlorinated benzene compounds and pesticides,” Narain said. The entire site is highly contaminated, she added.

The problem is that chemicals present in the soil of the factory are leaching into the groundwater and leading to slow poisoning of residents. “The entire site of the factory needs to be carefully checked and cleaned up,” Narain said.  

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