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MIC Leak Disaster and Environmental Contamination: Time to Act Now

Author:Brajendra Mishra, Nalok Banerjee

Keywords:MIC Disaster, Toxic contamination HCH, Atmospheric inversion, Remediation

Type:Original Article

Abstract:Back ground: More than a quarter century has passed since Methyl Isocyanate disaster took place at Union Carbide’s Sevin manufacturing plant at Bhopal on the night of 2nd /3rd December 1984. Mixture of toxic gases settled down on densely populated old city of Bhopal affecting human beings, animals, plants and even microflora. The stored stockpiles and the products of reactions contaminated air, water, soil and human as well as animal bodies. Methods and Procedures: field visit; monthly /six monthly and annually were made to have first hand information on the affected area and the localities surrounding it. Extensive secondary data review was done to understand the genesis, quantum and the potential of the contaminants to harm the environment and the human health. Results: It was found that the air was clean by 6th December 1984 and threat to environment by stored MIC was removed by 22nd December 1984. Soil was evaluated and observed that the potential to cause acute toxicity was at minimal by 2002. In 2013 water from local tube wells was found contaminated with inorganic Lead and HCH (>permissible limit) and HCH ? under permissible limit and it is recommended to be used for only non internal consumption purposes. Soil which at present is the main source of future contamination needs immediate remediation. Conclusion: Fear of contamination and resultant ill health is so far un-substantiated. However, further study should be conducted to link toxicant present in water/soil, pathways to reach food chain and ultimately human body and with their present health status. Soil remediation should be under taken on war footing.