Toxic waste from Bhopal plant being 'secretly' removed

2015-08-14 13:10


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New Delhi - More than three decades after the Bhopal gas disaster, Indian authorities have started removing toxic waste from the site for incineration, officials and news reports said on Friday.

Some 350 tons of solid waste have been lying at the defunct pesticide plant in the state of Madhya Pradesh, where a gas leak killed at least 15 000 people in 1984.

Ten tons of the waste were shifted from Bhopal to a private incineration facility some 220km away in Dhar district, which began burning it on Thursday, the Hindustan Times reported.

"We have begun disposing of the waste in a scientific manner," Narottam Mishra, the state minister in charge of dealing with the aftermath of the disaster, confirmed to dpa over phone, without giving any more details.

The first loads of the dangerous cargo were taken by trucks a fortnight ago in "complete secrecy" to avoid possible opposition to the move, the newspaper report said.

'Trial run'

The clean-up of the factory, owned at the time by Union Carbide Corp, has been a highly controversial issue, due to opposition from environmentalists and residents over possible health hazards.

The German government development agency GIZ had pulled out of a project to transport and burn the toxic waste after a public outcry in Germany.

Officials said the "trial run" to dispose of the waste follows a Supreme Court order and the process will take five days. If the trial is successful, the remaining waste will be removed and destroyed in the same way, the report said.

The waste, comprising mainly pesticides and heavy metals, is stored inside a warehouse at the Bhopal site.

It is not directly connected with the release of the deadly gas that claimed thousands of lives, but comes from the earlier dumping of chemicals from 1969 to 1984.

Activists claim that 1 million tons of waste are lying at the abandoned factory site and are contaminating soil and groundwater and damaging the health of thousands who live nearby.

Read more on:    india  |  pollution

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