BHOPAL, India, Feb. 7 (UPI) — Water around the long-closed Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, contains high levels of toxic pollutants, researchers say.
The plant was the site of an accidental release of toxic gas in 1984 that killed thousands of people and exposed an estimated half-million to airborne poisons.
The Central Pollution Control Board reports that underground aquifers around the plant are contaminated with benzene and chloroform, the Hindustan Times reported. Both chemicals can cause headache, nausea and, with high exposure, respiratory problems and coma.
“In some cases, the toxins were found to be several hundred times more than the permissible limits in drinking water,” the agency said.
Chemicals remain stored in the plant. Environmental activists like Sunitra Narain, director of the Center for Science and the Environment, accuse the government of failing to deal with the problem.
“The study shows that the site is highly contaminated,” Narain said. “The focus of the government is to dispose of the stored waste and ignore the site’s contamination. This will not solve the environmental problems from emanating from the UCIL factory.”
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