FACT SHEET
  Previous  page 1     2     3     4 Next  page
Research on waste at the Union Carbide factory and what it has found


August 2008: Director of the Defence Research and Development Establishment, Ministry of Defence, Gwalior writes to the Union government saying that the toxicity tests show waste has very low mammalian toxicity and are non-skin irritants. The government uses this report to say that the site is not hazardous. What does this report say?

The agency has submitted three reports on waste samples collected from the Bhopal factory:

  1. M P Kaushik, D K Dubey, Pankaj Kanaujia 2008, Report of the chemical analysis of aamples collected from UCIL plant site, Bhopal, Report no DRDE/VTX/UCIL/08

  2. DRDE 2008, Acute Oral toxicity studies of samples of “stored toxic wastes at the former UCIL plant site at Bhopal” in rats, DRDE, Gwalior, October (confidential)

  3. DRDE 2008, Primary skin irritation test of samples of “stored toxic wastes at the former UCIL plant site at Bhopal” in rabbits, DRDE, Gwalior, June (confidential)
1. What did it test and find?

6 samples were collected (not clear where the samples have been collected from and by whom). GC-MS analysis done; the test results of 3 samples given in report.

Sample 1: evacuated waste

Sevin content: 17.60 per cent
Alpha-lindane: 2.1 per cent
1-Napthol: 19 per cent
Rest of toxic chemicals: 24.3
Total organic chemical content and moisture in this soil sample: 63 per cent

Sample 2: napthol tar

Sevin content: 0.5 per cent
1-Napthol: 9 per cent
Rest of toxic chemicals: 20.5 per cent
Total organic chemical content and moisture in this soil sample: 30 per cent

Sample 3: Reactor residue

Sevin: 5.1 per cent
Alpha-lindane: 3.1 per cent
Rest of toxic chemicals: 66.3 per cent
Total organic chemical content and moisture in this soil sample: 74.5 per cent

All samples found high levels of pesticide and other chemicals

2. What did DRDE conclude based on this analysis?

The DRDE studied the acute toxicity of all these samples. In its report (Acute oral toxicity studies of samples of “stored toxic wastes at the former UCIL plant site at Bhopal” in rats, dated October 2008 marked confidential) it defined acute toxicity as adverse effect of a substance, which result either from a single exposure or from multiple exposure in a short space of time usually less than 24 hours. It further describes acute toxicity as toxicity in which adverse effect should occur within 14 days of the administration of the substance. Essentially, DRDE tested the samples to establish if the waste would lead to immediate poisoning.

In the study DRDE fed the samples to rats at various doses and concluded that the Oral LD50 of samples were very less (more than 4.5 gm per kg body weight). In other words, DRDE concluded that the wastes have very low mammalian toxicity. In other words, for a human to die from eating this waste, as much as 200 gms would have to be fed to it.

3. Why the DRDE report is misleading?

The issue in Bhopal is not acute toxicity. Nobody is discussing how humans will eat the waste and how much they need to eat to die. This is about chronic toxicity – the slow exposure of humans to toxins, which triggers diseases and leads to cancers in some cases.

The issue therefore is not LD50 (lethal dose) but acceptable daily intake (ADI) – how much can a human be exposed every day on a long-term basis. The ADI of Carbaryl (Sevin) is 0-0.003 mg/kg body weight. The ADI for lindane is 0-008 mg/kg body weight; ADI for aldicarb (temik) is 0-005 mg/kg body weight.

This means that these pesticides have high chronic toxicity – in fact, we should not be exposed to them at all. This is why waste dumped in the Union Carbide factory is lethal – on a long-term as it will poison the city and its groundwater.
  Previous  page 1     2     3     4 Next  page