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My name is Rose. I'm a pretty regular young woman, I live my life, I work in an office for a renewable energy consultancy, I ride a motorbike and day to day live a happy and safe existence. The same cannot be said for hundreds of thousands of people living in Bhopal - the unimaginable disasters that has befallen the city continue to be felt today, with children being born with diseases and birth malformations. This year my goal is to think of these poor people while I am safe and healthy and to try to help them. So, in June, I will taking the plunge, literally, to raise money and awareness for the Bhopal Medical Appeal. This poisoning tragedy killed so many, and the horror, death and pain inflicted on these people has never been brought to trial. The victims continue to suffer - so the least I can do, the least all of us can do, is try to help.
There is a famous and terrible image from Bhopal which sticks in my mind. It was taken by a photographer on the morning after the disaster. He found himself by a graveside as a father buried his small daughter. The father had covered the body, but then, unable to bear parting from her, brushed the earth away for one last look. That tiny, lifeless face should stick with us all.
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On the night of December 2nd, 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate. None of the six safety systems designed to contain such a leak were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city of Bhopal.
Half a million people were exposed to the gas and 25,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure. More than 150,000 people still suffer from ailments caused by the accident and the subsequent pollution at the plant site.
For fifteen years before the gas disaster Union Carbide had routinely dumped highly toxic chemical wastes inside and outside its factory site. Some were buried, some simply lay heaped on the soil, open to the elements.
Thousands of tons of pesticides, solvents, chemical catalysts and by-products lay strewn across 16 acres inside the site. Huge ‘evaporation ponds’ covering an area of 35 acres outside the factory received thousands of gallons of virulent liquid wastes.
After the catastrophic gas leak, the factory was locked up and left to rot, with all the chemicals and wastes still there. Union Carbide left the factory and its surrounds without cleaning them.
As each year’s monsoon battered the decaying plant and rain overflowed the huge ‘ponds’, the toxins seeped down through the soil, and filtered into underground channels and pools. Wells drawn from these ground water pools serve around 50,000 people living in eighteen townships. Among them is JP Nagar, the community most devastated by the gases of 1984.
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