News of the WeekBhopal

India Launches New Probe of Cyanide Disaster

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Science  02 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5987, pp. 19
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5987.19

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Summary

More than a quarter-century after the world's worst chemical disaster, the Indian government last week ordered remediation of the contaminated site in Bhopal and the creation of a research institute to study the toxic legacy. The more than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas that escaped from Union Carbide Corp.'s pesticide plant in Bhopal in the accident killed 5295 people within days, and, according to local authorities, nearly 10,000 more people have subsequently died of complications from cyanide lesions. The government has now instructed the Indian Council of Medical Research to set up a center in Bhopal to study respiratory diseases, cancers, genetic disorders, and birth defects. The decision is controversial because years of research have uncovered only acute effects of the gas.