The Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) disaster – also known as the Bhopal disaster or the Bhopal gas tragedy – was an industrial catastrophe that took place at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on December 3, 1984. Around 12 AM, the plant released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins, resulting in the exposure of over 500,000 people. Estimates vary on the death toll – the official immediate death toll was 2,259, which rose greatly over time. The government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Another source says that a few days later the death toll had doubled. Over the next few years, the lingering effects of the poison nearly doubled the toll again, to about 15,000, according to government estimates. Local activists say the real numbers are almost twice that. Others estimate 8,000-10,000 died within 72 hours and 25,000 have since died from gas-related diseases.
Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tonnes of toxic chemicals abandoned at the Union Carbide plant continue to leak and pollute the ground water in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents who depend on it , though there is some dispute as to whether the chemicals still stored at the site pose any continuing health hazard. There are currently civil and criminal cases related to the disaster ongoing in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India against Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical Company, with arrest warrants pending against Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster. No one has yet been prosecuted.