A month after seven former Union Carbide employees were given two-year jail terms for their role in the deadly gas leak in Bhopal a quarter-century ago, a senior Indian official met with survivors' groups Friday with a new plan to clean up the abandoned factory site.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told survivors in the central Indian city that he will head a panel set up to monitor the government's effort to decontaminate the site, which activists say has polluted the groundwater in the neighborhood and led to chronic ailments.
"It is a matter of great anguish that the waste is lying in the factory's premises" so many years after the disaster, Ramesh told reporters in Bhopal, according to the Press Trust of India. "We are looking at all the safe ways of disposing it."
More than 15,000 people died after deadly plumes of methyl isocyanate gas leaked out of a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal in December 1984. At least 3,000 people were killed immediately, and more than 500,000 people were affected by gas-related illnesses.
Union Carbide settled a civil lawsuit out of court in 1989 and paid the Indian government $470 million to compensate the victims.