NIRMALA GEORGE / Associated Press
NEW DELHI, India — Survivors of the Bhopal gas leak disaster on Friday threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike unless the Indian government forced Dow Chemical Co. to pay for the cleanup of toxic waste dumped at the site more than two decades ago.
“Dow should pay for the thousands of tons of lethal chemicals that have been dumped recklessly at the plant site. These are a health hazard and have to be cleaned up,” Satinath Sarangi, who heads the Bhopal Group of Information and Action, representing the survivors, said in New Delhi.
The leak of lethal methyl isocyanate gas from a pesticide plant, run by a subsidiary of U.S. chemical company Union Carbide killed at least 10,000 people and affected 550,000 others in the central Indian city of Bhopal in December 1984.
Since then, survivors of the disaster have been fighting to get the site cleaned up, though they say their efforts were slowed when Union Carbide was taken over by Michigan-based Dow Chemical in 2001, seven years after Union Carbide sold its interest in the Bhopal plant.
The plant now is under the control of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal is the Madhya Pradesh state capital.
A message seeking comment was left with Dow Chemical Friday morning.
Tens of thousands of survivors have suffered the after-effects of inhaling the noxious fumes and hundreds of deformed children have been born to those who were exposed to the gas leak.
The group of 50 survivors have walked from Bhopal to New Delhi — a distance of nearly 500 miles which took them 34 days — to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other government leaders to press the Indian government not to buy Dow products and halt any expansion of Dow’s business in India.