Bhopal disaster lingers, 25 years later

20,000 KILLED
Bhopal Gas Tragedy - Dec. 2-3, 1984

And you thought only weapons could cause mass destruction ... The Bhopal Gas Tragedy - 25 Years Later, A Continuing Disaster!

It was the deadliest industrial accident in history. On Dec. 3, 1984, clouds of poisonous gas leaked from a pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, and were carried on the breeze to nearby slums, killing 4,000 people in one day. Over the next few years, countless more died.

Twenty-five years later, the factory, now an abandoned wreck, still leaks toxins into the groundwater and soil.

Activists and residents of Bhopal marked the anniversary Thursday with protests for accountability and justice.

New research by a New Delhi-based think tank, the Centre for Science and the Environment (CSE), shows that less than two miles from the site, the groundwater contains nearly 40 times more pesticides than the level considered safe. Around the factory itself, the pesticide levels are 560 times higher.

The pesticides contain compounds that have been linked to serious illnesses, says CSE. Indeed, campaigners say that a quarter of a century later, Bhopal, a city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, has an unusually high incidence of children born with birth defects. Conservative estimates hold that 20,000 people died of illnesses caused by the leak within a few years. Activists say the health of at least 200,000 has been damaged.

Twenty years ago, Union Carbide paid $470 million to the Indian government for the victims. In 1999, the company was acquired by Dow Chemicals, which says this settlement resolved all existing and future claims against the company.

This week, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh, told the BBC that water around the factory plant was safe. What the ....?