Ian Jarvis

Ian Jarvis

Hello, this is the 'blog' page on my site. I will jot down thoughts, ideas and stories, not every day but on a variably frequent basis. Many of the entries will be about bodies (your physical reality?) or bodywork but some will be on a variety of other topics depending on what I am thinking about.

The Bhopal story continues; the disaster continues. I have composed my weeekly diaries into a book with pictures, thoughts, musings etc . You can read a little about it in the the 'Bhopal for Dummies (briefly)' entry, just a single click away. It is not a polemic about Dow Chemical, politics or law; it is about what is happening now to the people and what work is going on in Bhopal itself.

All purchases will help to fund the work supporting the people - not for politics.

The older topics are still there for debate, including my thoughts on Prostate HEALTH - it is not just cancer that affects this gland in men, nor is cancer the most common problem. I would love you to make your contribution whether you agree or disagree. It is good to discuss ideas openly on the basis that no-one will change their view unless another is opened for them. So, I will still enjoy your thoughts that differ from mine. And I may even post ideas that are contrary to my own - just to play the devil's advocate a bit.

I don't promise to respond to everything, after all I do have a life elsewhere but I will read everything that is posted.

I hope that what I write will stimulate a few people to new thoughts or investigations.

with much love

ian

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Tuesday, 03 December 2013 03:57

29 Year Anniversary Statement

BHOPAL GAS PEEDITH MAHILA UDYOG SANGHATHAN (BGPMUS)

51, Rajender Nagar, Bhopal 462010

&

BHOPAL GAS PEEDITH SANGHARSH SAHAYOG SAMITI (BGPSSS)

C/o Delhi Science Forum, D-158, Saket, New Delhi 110017

STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF

THE 29TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BHOPAL GAS LEAK DISASTER

02 December 2013

The escape of about 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) – a highly toxic chemical – from a storage tank in a pesticide plant of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in Bhopal on the night of 02/03 December 1984 resulted in a terrible disaster. Due to criminal negligence and utter callousness on the part of the plant management in taking adequate safety precautions, water and other impurities – that cause MIC to react violently – entered one of the MIC storage tanks resulting in exothermic reactions and forcing MIC and its reaction products to escape in the form of froth and lethal gases. The escaping poisonous gases, which were heavier than air, spread across 40 sq. kms of area of Bhopal, covering about 36 of the 56 municipal wards, leaving in its wake more than 20,000 dead (over several years) and inflicting injuries in varying degree on about 550,000 other human inhabitants. The pernicious impact on flora and fauna in the affected area was equally grave. UCIL was then under the control of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) – a U.S. multi-national company, which is currently wholly owned by the Dow Chemical Company (DOW), USA.

As noted on previous occasions, even nearly three decades after the disaster, neither the State nor the Central Government has made any attempt to either undertake a comprehensive assessment of the ramifications of the Bhopal disaster or to take necessary remedial measures. As a result, the gas-victims have had to wage concerted struggles in their quest for medical relief, compensation and justice. During 2013, while achieving partial success on the litigation front, lack of progress on most other pressing issues concerning the Bhopal gas-victims continue to remain a source of major concern. The current status of issues such as health care, enhancement of compensation, prosecution of the accused, remediation of the environment, etc., may be briefly recounted as follows:

1. HEALTH: The gross indifference on the part of the State and Central Governments to the health needs of the gas-victims continues to be as grim as ever. Apart from the fact that a fairly large infrastructure has been built in terms of buildings and number of hospital beds because of pressure exerted over the years by organizations supporting the cause of the Bhopal gas victims, the quality of health care in terms of investigation, diagnosis and treatment continue to be abysmal. The persistent apathy on the part of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the State of Madhya Pradesh in monitoring the health status of the Bhopal gas victims – through computerization and networking of hospital medical records and by ensuring the supply of health-booklet to each gas-victim with his/her complete medical record – is shocking to say the least. That a proper protocol for treatment of each gas-related ailment has not been evolved even 29 years after the disaster speaks volumes about the apathetic attitude of the concerned authorities in this regard.

It was because of this utter insensitivity on the part of the ICMR and the State Government that BGPMUS, the Bhopal Group for Information & Action (BGIA) and BGPSSS – as Petitioners Nos.1, 2 and 3 – filed a Writ Petition (No.50 of 1998) before the Supreme Court on 14.01.1998. The Petitioners pleaded for restarting of disaster-related medical research, monitoring and recording the health status of each gas-victim, improvement in health care facilities, appropriate protocol for treatment of each disaster-related ailment, etc. After 14 years of litigation, the Supreme Court acceded to the above prayers of the Petitioners and vide Order dated 09.08.2012 had issued necessary directions to the ICMR and the State Government in this regard. The Petitioners were further directed to pursue the matter before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, a task that the Petitioners are actively engaged in at present. However, the fact remains that even 15 months after the Supreme Court passed the said Order dated 09.08.2012, neither the ICMR nor the State Government have taken the necessary steps to comply fully with all the directions of the Court.

At the behest of BGPMUS and BGPSSS, the Supreme Court vide Order dated 27.09.2013 has also directed the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which is under the Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and which has been entrusted with the task of computerization of the medical records of the gas-victims, to be impleaded as a Respondent in the case. Moreover, vide Order dated 19.11.2013, the MP High Court has directed the NIC to interact with the Monitoring Committee to evolve a proper format for computerization of medical records and issuance of health booklet to each gas-victim with his/her complete medical record. (The Monitoring Committee, which includes representatives of the Petitioners as well as of the State Government, was set up by the Supreme Court vide order dated 17.08.2004 to monitor the health status of the gas-victims.) The High Court will issue further directions in this matter on 11.12.2013.

The urgency of restarting medical research arising from and related to the Bhopal disaster, which the ICMR had abandoned in 1994,  can in no way be underplayed especially in the light of numerous reports about the high morbidity rate in the gas-exposed areas of Bhopal. The four consolidated medical reports on the Bhopal disaster that the ICMR has published so far provide ample proof in this regard. Reports about genetic defects among the progenies of some of the gas-victims are also a major cause for concern.

2.  COMPENSATION: Twenty-one years after the unjust Bhopal Settlement of 14/15 February 1989, the Union of India had decided to file a curative petition [Curative Petition (Civil) Nos.345-347 of 2010] before the Supreme Court on 03.12.2010 against the terms of the Settlement on the plea that the Settlement was based on underestimated figures of the dead and injured. The petition has been admitted but has not yet been taken up for hearing. BGPMUS and BGPSSS do support the UOI’s Curative Petition in principle regarding the total casualty figure (i.e., 5,73,000, including dead and injured) and regarding the modalities for enhancing compensation (i.e., that it should be based on the Dollar-Rupee exchange rate that prevailed at the time of the Settlement). However, BGPMUS and BGPSSS have serious differences with the UOI’s stand regarding the number of dead (just 5295) and the seriously injured (just 4944) and regarding the paltry claims for relief & rehabilitation and for environmental damage. The stand of BGPMUS & BGPSSS regarding the number of dead (20,000+) and seriously injured (150,000+) has already been explained in the Special Leave Petition (SLP) that is currently pending before the Supreme Court as SLP (C) No.12893 of 2010, which will be heard only after the disposal of UOI’s Curative Petition. On 24.10.2013, BGPMUS & BGPSSS have filed an Interlocutory Application in UOI’s Curative Petition (C) Nos.345-347 of 2010 to point out the inadequacies in the same and praying for granting appropriate relief. It is astonishing that the Union of India had made no attempt to place the relevant ICMR reports before the Claim Courts to enable the Claim Courts to assess fairly the types and gravity of injuries suffered by the Bhopal gas victims. In the absence of proper health booklets, which the ICMR and the State Government had failed to provide to each gas-victim, circumstantial evidence would have been very valuable in determining the likely degree of injury suffered by a gas-victim. BGPMUS & BGPSSS hope that the said Curative Petition, which has been pending before the Supreme Court for the last three years, would be disposed of without further delay.

3.  CRIMINAL CASE: The criminal cases against the accused are supposedly proceeding at two levels: one against the three absconding accused and the other against the eight accused who appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, to face trial. Through Judgment and Order dated 07.06.2010, the CJM has prosecuted the said eight accused persons under Section 304-A, 336, 337 and 338 of IPC. The CBI, the State of MP and BGPMUS & BGPSSS had filed Criminal Revision Petitions against the said Judgment before the Sessions Court, Bhopal. By completely overlooking the plea of the Prosecution and by upholding the contentions of the accused in toto, the Sessions Court, Bhopal, on 28.08.2012 dismissed the CBI’s Criminal Revision Petition No.632 of 2010 against the said Judgment because of it “being not maintainable and barred by limitation”. The CBI had sought enhancement of charges against Keshub Mahindra and 7 other accused from Section 304-A to Section 304 Part-II of IPC on the basis of evidence already before the Court of the CJM.  Thus, the ray of hope that was visible in the Supreme Court’s Order dated 11.05.2011 in Curative Petition (Cr.) Nos.39-42 of 2010, which was that the misreading of its Order dated 13.09.1996 in Criminal Appeals Nos.1672-1675 of 1996 by the CJM “can certainly be corrected by the appellate/ revisional court”, has suffered a serious setback. Moreover, the fervent hope that similar Criminal Revision Petitions that the State of MP as well as BGPMUS & BGPSSS had filed, which were certainly not barred by limitation, would receive favourable consideration were also thwarted when the Sessions Court summarily dismissed the said Revision Petitions after keeping the same pending unduly for over three years. BGPMUS & BGPSSS have already expressed their utmost displeasure at the extremely slow pace at which the criminal case has been proceeding and their demand for setting up a special court to speed up the proceedings has not yet been acceded to by the State Government.

As of now, BGPMUS and BGPSSS, which were instrumental in reviving the criminal cases against the accused in 1991 by filing an appeal and a writ petition against the unjust settlement of 14/15.02.1989, have currently no locus in proceeding with the criminal cases against the Indian accused before the Sessions Court. Under the circumstances, accused Nos.2 to 9 can rest content that the likelihood of having to undergo punishment in their lifetime for the heinous crime they had committed is most improbable. Ten to fourteen days imprisonment at the time of arrest is the only privation that seven of the accused have suffered so far; accused No.4 has not faced even that inconvenience to date! Needless to say, the possibility of the survivors being rendered justice in their lifetime for the loss & suffering they have had to endure during the last 29 years remains as remote as ever.

The criminal case against the three absconding accused, namely accused Nos.1, 10 and 11, which has been pending before the Court of the CJM as Miscellaneous Judicial Case (MJC) No.91 of 1992 has also been proceeding at an equally tardy pace. After acceding to the plea of BGPSSS, BGIA and BGPMUS dated 07.09.2001, the CJM had issued notice to the Dow Chemical Company (DOW), USA, on 06.01.2005 to appear in the criminal case on behalf of the absconding accused No.10, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA, which had become a wholly owned subsidiary of DOW in 2001. However, on 17.03.2005, the MP High Court at Jabalpur had stayed the said order of the CJM at the urging of a purportedly non-party in the matter. The stay was vacated only seven years later on 19.10.2012, when the High Court finally upheld the validity of the CJM’s Order dated 06.01.2005. After BGPSSS & BGPMUS brought the ruling of the High Court to the attention of the CJM, Bhopal, through an Application dated 30.11.2012, the case – MJC No.91/1992 – was posted for hearing on 07.01.2013. However, it is highly regretful that for no rhyme or reason the CJM has not re-issued the notice to DOW even nearly a year later. BGPSSS & BGPMUS had also brought to the attention of the CJM that proceeding against the absconding accused No.1, Warren Anderson, had not progressed even after the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, had issued a Letter Rogatory on 23.03.2011 at the urging of the CBI for the purpose. The fact is, the Union of India has made no attempt to expedite the proceedings although the matter is reportedly pending before the U.S. Administration since April 2011. The lackadaisical manner in which the trial against the accused in the Bhopal disaster criminal case has proceeded for the last twenty-nine years makes a mockery of the criminal justice system in the country.  BGPMUS & BGPSSS are in the process of placing these facts before the higher courts for appropriate relief.

4.  ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION: Toxic waste that was generated during UCIL’s operation from 1969 to 1984 was dumped in and around the plant leading to severe soil and water contamination. A comprehensive study to estimate the extent and gravity of the damage has not been carried out by the Centre or the State Government to date. Instead, the magnitude of the problem has been grossly underestimated by making it appear that the total toxic waste that needs to be safely disposed of is only about 345 tonnes that is stored at the plant site. The matter is before the Supreme Court as SLP (C) No.9874 of 2012. However, the current proposal to incinerate/bury the toxic waste near Indore is wholly misconceived and it would only result in shifting the problem from Bhopal to Indore. On the contrary, in a preliminary study that was jointly carried out by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, and the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, during 2009-2010, it was estimated that “the total quantum of contaminated soil requiring remediation amounts to 1,100,000 MT [metric tonnes](p.68) or 650,000 cubic metres. Based on the “Polluter Pays Principle”, it is the duty and responsibility of the Dow Chemical Company, USA, which currently owns UCC, to meet the cost of remediating comprehensively the affected environment in and around the UCIL plant with the latest available remediation technology. Similarly, the cost of providing safe-drinking water to the affected population residing in and around the former UCIL plant too has to be borne by DOW. However, the responsibility for providing safe drinking water to the affected population is entirely that of the State Government.

At the initiative of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi, a preliminary attempt was made in April 2013 to bring together on a common platform the various stakeholders and experts to prepare an Action Plan to remediate the degraded environment. While a draft Action Plan has been worked out, it requires further refinement as well as inputs from other experts and stakeholders, including the Government of Madhya Pradesh.

5.   RELIEF & REHABILITATION: The State Government has failed to address adequately and with sensitivity a whole host of socio-economic problems that confronts the chronically sick, the elderly, the differently abled, the widowed, and other vulnerable sections among the gas-victims. The pittance, which was disbursed as compensation in most instances to these sections was never enough to take care of their daily needs. Finding gainful employment in accordance with the reduced capacity to work and to lead a dignified life has been a serious challenge. The State Government has to provide far more attention and support to this issue than in the past.

On the 29th anniversary of this man-made-disaster, the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan (BGPMUS) and the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS) pay their homage to the deceased victims and reiterate their determination to continue to uphold the cause of the survivors and to seek justice for the hapless victims.

(Abdul Jabbar Khan)                                               (N.D. Jayaprakash)

 

Convener, BGPMUS,                                              Co-Convener, BGPSSS

 

Tel: 0755-2748688                                                   Tel: 011-27666980

 

Mobile: +91-9406511720                                        Mobile: +91-9968014630

Saturday, 13 October 2012 07:17

The Sound of Silence

I was reminded, in a treatment a couple of days ago, about the importance of stillness and silence and also of coming home to the spine.

A new client arrived with several current problems and after discussing her case I commenced work on her spine. After working slowly down I naturally came to that all important vertebral joint L5/S1. For those readers not familiar with your spine and/or the non-therapists among you, that is the gap between the last lumber vertebra and the sacrum.

One reason I consider it so important is that the sacrum is held fairly firmly in between the two bones of the pelvis, the iliea, so L5 is the first of the ‘true’ spine that moves freely. It may not move much, but it does move and it is important that it moves. If L5 does not move then L4 has more work to do and can get over loaded and so the result is that the restriction can travel up the spine.

I rested there, with my thumbs gently pressing into the space either side. It was tight.

Then I waited.

I don’t play music in my sessions so there was silence. And stillness. As I held it I did not move beyond my soft breathing.

After a few minutes she gave a gentle ‘lurch’ with her pelvis and low back – it is hard to describe it any other way. Then, as the minutes passed in stillness and silence she moved into more, gentle lurches, and some soft tears. After about 10 minutes more, it all subsided.

So, why am I telling you this? Because the space of silence and stillness is what gives permission for a release like this. Had I been playing music that would have stamped its need for hearing on us and set a mood for the session. She was free to choose whatever mood she desired, or that just came and visited her.

Music can also be a distinct distraction, taking both client and therapist away from the task in hand; not allowing the free flow of – well of whatever it is that needs to flow for that session.

Much later in the session I was working on her neck and about four vertebrae were in a small curve. I had eased the tension between each one and then simply held the lower one, not moving for several minutes and, again, still in silence. After those several minutes I checked the vertebrae and they were straight.

The second lesson for me was the importance of coming home to the spine. I could have worked many areas on this client and, I am sure, they would all have brought benefit. But the central core of the being, the spine, brought about what I consider to be the biggest release for her in that moment.

The final lesson is the importance of giving the body the time just to do its own healing. A simple stimulus, such as the primeval touch in the right place, and allowing time for the subconscious – maybe I should say the Unconscious, to recognise a need, a long forgotten healing perhaps, and gently do its work.

Saturday, 18 August 2012 07:15

The Orphans of Bhopal

The Orphans of Bhopal by N. D. JAYAPRAKASH

Crime and No Punishment

(Published previously on www.bhopal.net and www.counterpunch.com)

The survivors of the world’s worst chemical disaster – the Bhopal disaster of 03 December 1984 – continue to remain victims of apathy and neglect because of utter indifference on the part of the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the Government of India towards their wellbeing. The man-made disaster resulted from the escape of toxic gases from one of the three partially underground storage tanks containing about 42 metric-tones of methyl-isocyanate (MIC), a highly toxic and reactive chemical, from the premises of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA. [For details regarding the circumstances and causes of the disaster, please see article titled The Crime of Union Carbide”.(Also on the blog page of this site)

Institutions under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which initially took active interest in unraveling all the ramifications of the disaster, have failed to live up to their potential in this regard by succumbing to pressure from the powers that be. The brazen manner in which the ICMR had discontinued all medical research related to the Bhopal Disaster as early as 1994 speaks volumes about the indifference of this premier health-research institution in the India towards the health-needs of the gas-victims. [In 2010, after a gap of 16 years, organizations fighting for the cause of the gas-victims have succeeded in forcing the ICMR to reopen its Bhopal centre now named as the National Institute for Research in Environmental Health (NIREH). However, the ICMR is frantically trying to limit the commitment of NIREH to health issues arising from environmental contamination caused by UCC/UCIL before the 1984 disaster and is, therefore, making every attempt to ensure that NIREH refrains from tackling health issues related to the 1984 disaster. While efforts at proposing ways and means to remediate the contaminated environment are most welcome, to use the issue of environmental damage as a cover for glossing over the impact of the 1984 MIC-disaster is wholly unwarranted.]

What is equally worse was that a time-period of nearly three decades has apparently not been enough for India’s judicial system – both at the lower as well as higher levels – to dispense justice to the hapless gas-victims. As far as India’s national media was concerned, they highlighted the plight of the gas-victims for the first time ever in 2010. But since then the fate of the gas-victims has practically remained a non-issue, unworthy of media attention. In short, for all practical purposes, the more than 500,000 surviving gas-victims continue to remain orphans within the Indian polity with practically no one in the establishment being responsible or concerned about their dreary existence.

Despite causing the death of over 20,000 innocent people, the perpetrators of the crime seem to have hardly lost any sleep over it. Accused No.1, Warren Anderson (then Chairman, UCC), was arrested and detained on 07 December 1984 for barely about six hours in UCIL’s Bhopal guesthouse before being allowed to fly back to the U.S. Accused No.2, Keshub Mahindra (then Chairman, UCIL) and accused No.3. V.P.Gokhale (then General-Manager, UCIL) remained under house-arrest there from 07 to 13 December 1984. Accused Nos.5 to 9 including J.Mukund (Works Manager, UCIL), and S.P.Choudhury (Production Manager, UCIL) were arrested on 03 December 1984 and were bailed out on 15 December 1984. Accused No.4, Kishore Kamdar (Vice-President, UCIL) and other liable officials of UCC and Union Carbide Eastern (UCE), Hong Kong, were never arrested or ever detained. Therefore, the maximum discomfort the accused have had to suffer in the last 28 years was detention for a period ranging from barely 6 hours to 12 days – way back in December 1984. It has been business as usual for the accused ever since; leading a life of comfort and unperturbed by the havoc they had let loose in Bhopal.

The Whitewash Job

Immediately after the disaster, UCC and UCIL did everything in their power to underplay the gravity and implications of the disaster. Not only did their officials fail to forewarn the local population of the precautionary measures to be taken in case of an accidental release of MIC, but also even after the disaster they tried to mislead the local doctors about the grievous impact of exposure to MIC. According to a report published in 1985:

As victims crowded into the Hamidia Hospital, L D Loya, the company’s medical officer, told the frantic doctors: “The gas is nonpoisonous. There is nothing to do except to ask the patients to put a wet towel over their eyes.” [See: http://cseindia.org/userfiles/THE%20BHOPAL%20DISASTER.pdf, p.206]

In fact, “…local Carbide officials… kept on insisting that MIC is only an irritant and not lethal.” [Ibid, p.219] Apparently, a section of the local medical fraternity and the local administration too actively colluded with Carbide officials in misleading the public. Later when postmortem reports started revealing that many of the deaths may have occurred due to “cyanide” poisoning, the insidious propaganda to conceal the truth further intensified. The underlying reason was that since “cyanide” was well-known as a highly poisonous chemical, Carbide officials did not want people to associate “cyanide” with MIC. The concerted attempts at spreading such misinformation had serious repercussions. For example, it resulted in non-administration of sodium-thiosulphate – the only known antidote to cyanide poisoning – to the vast majority of the exposed victims when timely administration of the same may have saved many lives or prevented aggravation of injuries. This was despite the fact that an ICMR study that was initiated in January 1985 in this regard had clearly pointed out that:

“the rationale for the use of sodium thiosulphate as an antidote has been established to ameliorate the lingering sickness of gas affected victims of Bhopal”. [See: “Health Effects of Exposure to Toxic Gas at Bhopal – An Update on ICMR-sponsored Researches”, 10 March 1985, ICMR, New Delhi, p.18]

Despite such findings, the all powerful pro-Carbide lobby in Bhopal and elsewhere easily managed to sideline ICMR’s considered opinion about sodium-thiosulphate therapy, which effectively resulted in the denial of the much needed timely medical relief to the bulk of the gas-victims. The maneuverings did not stop at that; unwarranted pressure was exerted from various quarters on the ICMR, which impelled it to ban any further publication of its Bhopal-disaster related research findings for several years.

The pro-Carbide lobby also managed to scuttle the attempt at assessing the overall impact of the disaster and properly identifying all the gas-affected victims. It so happened that in collaboration with the State Government, a voluntary initiative was made by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, in this direction through a house-to-house survey in the gas-affected areas of Bhopal with the help of over 500 student and teacher volunteers from several schools of social work across the country. However, after considerable data was collected during January-February 1985 from about 25,000 households or about one-fourth of the total affected population (as per ICMR estimates), the State Government arbitrarily decided to disband the TISS survey. What was worse was that even the limited data that had been collected until then was confiscated by the State Government and was never shared with TISS or any other known agency, which could have properly analyzed that vital data. As a result, the opportunity to make a comprehensive assessment of the actual impact of the disaster immediately after it had occurred was lost. It was left to individuals to prove that he or she (or their kin) was a victim by filing individual claims for compensation – a tedious process that began only after September 1985 with the promulgation of the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Registration and Processing of Claims) Scheme.

Earlier following public pressure, the State Government was forced to institute a public enquiry three days after the disaster. It set up the ‘Bhopal Poisonous Gas Leakage (1984) Inquiry Commission’ under the chairmanship of Justice N.K.Singh, who was then a sitting judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. However, the N.K.Singh Commission could not carry on with its task in the absence of necessary submissions and documents, which the State Government and the accused company, UCC, through its subsidiary UCIL, were to render before the Commission. The State Government and UCIL prevaricated in every possible manner from making the necessary submissions. It was only nearly a year later, that the State Government, followed by UCIL, made pretence of making such submissions. On 28 November 1985, the State Government came forward to file its statement before the Commission without the list of witnesses and the list of documents, which were filed only subsequently. To the utter dismay of the gas-victims and all concerned people, the Government of Madhya Pradesh, which had dithered in its submissions until 12 December 1985, terminated the Commission on 17 December 1985, thereby, pre-empting the enquiry and practically letting the accused companies and their officials off the hook. The valuable submissions made by several voluntary organizations and concerned individuals before the Commission were of no avail. In short, while every attempt was made to underplay the magnitude and the grievousness of the disaster, very little efforts were made to adequately compensate the victims, on the one hand, and, on the other, to ensure that the guilty officials of UCC, UCE and UCIL were brought to justice and punished for their horrendous crime.

The Unjust Settlement

Initially, it did appear that the Indian Government was totally committed to the cause of the Bhopal gas victims when at its initiative the Indian Parliament adopted a law titled “The Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act 1985” on 29.03.1985. The Bhopal Act was enacted purportedly: “for the purpose of insuring that claims…arising out of and caused by the BHOPAL GAS LEAK DISASTER…are dealt with speedily, effectively and equitably.”

This observation was made in para 5 of Union of India’s Complaint against UCC, which was filed before the New York Southern District Court on 08.04.1985. The said Complaint further went on to state as follows:

“Because of the massive unprecedented magnitude of the BHOPAL DISASTER…, the Union of India brings this action as parens patriae by virtue of its interest and duty to secure the health and well-being, both physical and economic, of all victims of the disaster (including future generations of victims), almost all of whom are physically and/or financially or otherwise incapable of individually litigating their claims against the Defendant, a monolithic, multinational corporation.” [Para 6]

On 12 May 1986, Judge Keenan of the New York Court dismissed Government of India’s plea on the grounds of forum non conveniens, i.e., that the courts in USA were not the appropriate forum for seeking justice for the Bhopal gas victims. At the same time, Judge Keenan also directed UCC to submit to the jurisdiction of the Indian courts. Consequently, on 05 September 1986, the Indian Government filed a suit for damages in the Bhopal District Court, which replicated, almost wholly, the suit it had filed before the New York Court. However, UCC had little intention of facing trial in India and, therefore, it attempted to sell off its global assets as a way of evading liability. After the GOI brought this reported move on the part of UCC to the attention of the Court, the Bhopal Court issued a temporary injunction on 17 November 1986 barring UCC from selling assets, paying dividends, or buying back debts. After the Indian Government indicated that the amount it would claim as damages from UCC would exceed $3000 million, the Bhopal Court passed an order on 30 November 1986 lifting the injunction on the condition that UCC would maintain “… unencumbered assets of a fair market value of 3 billion dollars to meet the decree if any that may be passed by this Court.”

Later, as a consequence of the proposal mooted by victims-organizations and its own initiative, the Bhopal District Court on 17 December 1987 ordered UCC to pay an interim compensation of Rs.350 crores (then about $270 million) to the gas-victims. However, on 04 April 1988, in response to UCC’s appeal, the Madhya Pradesh High Court modified the order of the Bhopal District Court and ordered UCC to pay an interim compensation of Rs.250 crores (then about $192 million) only. After both UCC and the Government of India opposed the decision, the Supreme Court of India on 08 September 1988 admitted both UCC’s and UOI’s Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) against the High Court’s order as civil appeals (C.A. Nos.3187-3188 of 1988).

What is most intriguing is that, during the hearing in the Supreme Court on the said Civil Appeals, on 14/15 February 1989, the Court ordered settlement of the main suit itself, which was then pending before the Bhopal Court. As is evident from the article titled “The Crime of Union Carbide” (referred to above), the Settlement took place on the very day the U.S. Government had granted permission to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to inspect UCC’s similar pesticide plant at Institute in West Virginia, USA. The purpose of the inspection was for carrying out a comparative study of the safety-systems installed at the MIC units at UCC’s Bhopal and Institute plants in order to verify allegations about adoption of double-standards. But the abrupt Settlement effectively prevented the CBI from inspecting the safety-systems installed at the Institute plant, which would have proved beyond doubt that UCC had installed sub-standard safety-systems at its Bhopal plant.

Till date the GOI has not provided any other rational explanation as to why the Settlement took place suddenly on 14/15 February 1989, when the Settlement did not and could not have provided any immediate relief to the gas-victims. In fact, the Supreme Court of India in the Order dated 04 May 1989 did try to advance an explanation by stating that the settlement was then necessary because the Court “considered it a compelling duty, both judicial and humane, to secure immediate relief to the victims.” [Para 10, (1989) 3 SCC 43] However, the truth was that, far from securing immediate relief to the gas-victims, it took 3 to 15 years more before the Settlement Fund was disbursed among the gas-victims. Whereas, immediate relief was first provided to the mass of gas-victims (@ Rs.200/- per person per month to all residents in the 36 gas-affected wards of Bhopal) vide Supreme Court order dated 13 March 1990 after the Indian Government headed by Prime Minister V.P.Singh took a decision on 12 March 1990, at the urging of organizations fighting for the cause of gas-victims, to release Rs.360 crores ($240 million) for the purpose. [See: Upendra Baxi & Amita Danda, “Valiant Victims and Lethal Litigation: The Bhopal Case”, The Indian Law Institute, Delhi, 1990, pp.675-679] Thus, it was the Order dated 13 March 1990, and not the Settlement Order of 14/15 February 1989, which ensured that over 500,000 gas-victims were provided immediate interim relief, which was granted for the next three years because the adjudication process for disbursing the Settlement Fund did not begin until the middle of 1992. (Due to the extremely slow process of adjudication of claims, interim relief payment was extended in many cases for another three years – until 1996.) Therefore, the assertion that the Settlement was intended to “secure immediate relief to the victims” was at best an afterthought conjured up to justify the timing of the Settlement, which was otherwise highly questionable.

The wholly unjust terms of the Settlement were quite appalling too. The Settlement discharged the undertaking given by UCC in the Bhopal District Court to maintain unencumbered assets of a fair market value of $3 billion pursuant to the Court’s order dated 30 November 1986, which was a great relief to UCC. Moreover, the Settlement, on the one hand, resulted in the withdrawal of all pending criminal cases against UCC and its accused officials. On the other, the quantum of the settlement amount was limited to $470 million (about Rs.705 crore), which was less than one-sixth of the Government of India’s original claim of $3000 million on the baseless assumption that the total number of human casualties were only around 105,000 (including 3000 dead). The basis of the assumptions regarding casualty figures in the Settlement were totally untenable is evident from the fact that only about ten per cent of the total number of the nearly 600,000 claims that had been filed till then had been processed at the time of the Settlement. The decision to effectively reject nearly 500,000 claims without even processing the same was completely arbitrary and unjust. Moreover, the victims were not consulted or informed in advance about the terms of the proposed settlement although as per the provisions of the Bhopal Act of 1985, the Indian Government was required to do so. Thus, in actual practice, the GOI conveniently hid behind the Bhopal Act to compromise the interests of the gas-victims through the unjust Settlement. While the Settlement did provide instant and substantial relief to UCC, justice continues to elude the gas-victims.

Challenges to the Settlement

As a result of the review and writ petitions filed in March 1989 by the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan (BGPMUS*), the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS**) and others, the Supreme Court of India did revive all the criminal cases against the accused vide order dated on 03 October 1991. However, the Court continued to justify the quantum of the paltry Settlement amount by advancing the argument that victim-groups had failed to place before the Court higher casualty figures contrary to those on which the Settlement was based. That the Supreme Court was wholly wrong on this count has been proven by subsequent developments. The fact was that the process of adjudication of claims began only in the middle of 1992 (several months after the Court had issued the said review order dated 03.10.1991) – a process that went on for the next 12 years until 2004 (and effectively completed only by 2006 when all the appeals were disposed of as well). So, prior to completion of the adjudication process, there was no question of victim-groups being in a position – especially during 1989-1991 – to place before the Court casualty figures that were contrary to those on which the Settlement was based.

Through interlocutory applications dated 13 September 2004 (I.A. Nos.48-49 of 2004 in the said Civil Appeals), BGPMUS and BGPSSS informed the Supreme Court that adjudication of all claims had established that the total casualty figure was well over 560,000 (excluding claims then pending in Appeal), which was five-times more than the casualty figure that had formed the basis of the Settlement. The said I.A.s were, however, dismissed by the Court on 04 May 2007 without going into the merits of the case. As events have unfolded, it has been proved beyond doubt that there was ample merit in the said I.A.s filed by BGPMUS and BGPSSS since the Government of India itself has now come forward to challenge the Settlement Order of 14/15 February 1989. By filing a curative petition (Nos.345-347 of 2010) before the Supreme Court of India on 03 December 2010, the Indian Government has sought from UCC/Dow Chemical Company substantial enhancement of the compensation amount (an additional Rs.7728 crores or $1658 million) due to higher casualty figures and for environmental damage.

While the Government of India has explicitly admitted in the said Curative Petition that the total number of dead and injured is actually 573,588 (instead of the purported figure of 105,000, which was the basis of the Settlement), it continues to insist that the bulk of the gas-victims (527,894) have suffered only temporary/minor injuries. The Indian Government is basing its argument solely on the outcome of the adjudication process carried out by the Claim-Courts, which had placed the onus of producing medical documents in support of each claim on the concerned victim. On the contrary, it was actually the duty and responsibility of the ICMR and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department (BGTRRD) under the State Government to ensure that each gas-victim was provided a health booklet with his/her complete medical record, a vital task that the two official bodies have failed to fulfil.  It is totally unjust on the part of the Indian Government to equate absence of health-booklet with absence of serious injury especially when the onus of supplying such health-booklets to each gas-victim was on the ICMR and the BGTRRD, both of which are government establishments.

The failure to create a central registry for gas-victims, disinclination to monitor and record the health status of each gas-victim and aversion to providing a copy of his/her complete medical record to each gas-victim, etc., constitute nothing but complete dereliction of duty on the part of the ICMR and the BGTRRD. What is equally shocking is that a proper protocol for treating gas-victims has not been evolved till date and all kinds of drugs continue to be administered to them on a symptomatic basis. The gas-victims have also been subjects of secret and ill-legal drug trials for which no one has been held accountable until now. Thus, while the Claim-Courts have declared that the bulk of the gas-victims suffered only from temporary/minor injuries, the fact is that a sizable section of them are still undergoing medical-treatment for injuries they suffered during the gas leak disaster.

The Government of India has a lot of explaining to do as to why it had refrained from making available all the necessary ICMR reports to the Claim-Courts, which would have been of great assistance to the Courts in adjudicating the claims. In fact, the Welfare Commissioner, Bhopal, in para 28 of his Order dated 31 January 2009 (in response to the petition filed by nine members of BGPMUS and BGPSSS on 28 August 2008) has confirmed that: “…the ICMR Report has not been placed before the Tribunal…” The Welfare Commissioner went on to add: “In future any such report, if it is published or made public, it will be for the Union of India, as a Welfare State, to consider the same and take action accordingly…” Therefore, the news-report that there was “scientific blackout in India” on Bhopal studies and that “…the data that matters most – MIC’s effects on humans – have been kept under wraps by the Indian Government” (W.Lepkowski, “Methyl Isocyanate. Debate Persists Over Mechanism of Toxicity”, Chemical & Engineering News, 22.12.1986, at: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cen-v064n051.p017) was absolutely correct. The subsequent revelation in an internal report of the ICMR (“Report of the Task Force” dated 15 March 2012) that the ICMR had actually imposed a “ban on publication” of the results of its Bhopal-disaster-related research studies on the specious plea that the matter was “subjudice” is, indeed, a bizarre explanation for concealing ICMR’s findings to say the least.

Underestimation of Serious Injuries

The failure to make available the necessary ICMR reports to the Claim-Courts (and absence of the requisite individual medical records in the form of health-booklets in vast majority of cases), has resulted in the Claim-Courts grossly underestimating the seriousness of the injuries suffered by the gas-victims. Earlier, the ICMR had estimated that: “Out of the total population, nearly 1.6 lac people present within a radius of 3 km from the factory were exposed presumably to a higher concentration of Gas and also perhaps for a longer period of time.” The ICMR had also noted that: “It is also a safe assumption that higher the concentration of the Toxic Gases inhaled, the more severe would be the mortality and greater the morbidity.” [See: http://www.icmr.nic.in/final/BGDRC-TEchnical%20Report.pdf p.46 & p.40] In short, according to ICMR’s findings in 1984, no less than 168,686 gas-victims would have suffered serious injuries [Ibid, p.17]. Whereas, after completing the adjudication process without the requisite documents in 2006, the Claim-Courts could identify only 4944 seriously injured gas-victims. [The increasing number of cancer-related deaths among the gas-exposed is also causing grave concern.]

Indeed, it is now apparent that the Claim-Courts without access to the relevant ICMR reports could not have know about the toxic nature of MIC and its derivatives, about the way in which the toxic cloud had spread across Bhopal or about the manner in which death and injuries had occurred. If the Claim-Courts were ignorant of these factors, how could they have judiciously assessed the degree of injuries sustained by the gas-victims? Therefore, there could be little doubt that the Claim-Courts, for pronouncing their verdicts, were mostly dependent on the reports from BGTRRD’s shoddy medical documentation & categorization exercise that was conducted between 1987 and 1991(mostly four to six years after the disaster) and on the medical and other related documents, which some individual gas-victims had produced before the courts. That the medical documentation exercise was shoddily carried out was demonstrated by a group of activists who had analyzed the method and the lackadaisical manner in which the documentation was being conducted and had brought out a critical report titled “Against All Odds” in December 1989. The said report was submitted to the Supreme Court of India in 1990 through BGPMUS and BGPSSS during the hearing in the review and writ petitions against the Bhopal Settlement. The conclusion of the report was as follows:

By inadequately examining the claimants (clinically and through investigations) and by evaluating the injuries and categorizing them with the use of faulty tools biased against the gas victims, the Directorate of Claims, Bhopal [BGTRRD] has “defined” away the injuries of more than 90% of the victims as ‘no injury’ or ‘temporary injury’.”

Approximately 362,000 personal injury claimants were subjected to medical evaluation [see: (1991) 4 SCC 653] and the bulk of them went through that exercise four to six years after the disaster.  After evaluation, while about 40% of the claimants were placed under the “no injury” category, nearly 50% of the claimants were placed under the “temporary injury” category. To place an injury that continues to persist even four to six years after the disaster under the “temporary injury” category was utterly preposterous. Such inept and insensitive method of evaluation and categorization clearly exposes the sheer mindlessness of that exercise. Indeed, if this exercise had been carried out even with a semblance of honesty of purpose, the ICMR and the BGTRRD would have made every effort to continue to monitor the health status of these gas-victims on a periodic basis at least from 1991 onwards. However, that has not been the case despite a specific direction from the Supreme Court in this regard, which was as follows:

“We are of the view that for at least a period of eight years from now the population of Bhopal exposed to the hazards of MIC toxicity should have provision for medical surveillance by periodic medical check-up for gas related afflictions.” [See: Para 203, Order dated 03.10.1991, (1991) 4 SCC 683]

Denial of Health Booklets

Even earlier, in response to Writ Petition No.11708 of 1985, which was filed on behalf of victim-groups, the Supreme Court, in an Order dated 04 November 1985, had observed as follows:

“It is desirable that some independent machinery must be set up which would … carry out a proper epidemiological survey and also a house-to-house survey of the gas affected victims both of which will also be necessary for the purpose of determining the compensation payable to the gas affected victims and their families. It would be necessary for the purpose of ensuring proper medical facilities to the gas affected victims.”

Yet, over the years, there was little attempt at systematically identifying all the gas-victims, providing them proper medical-care, and monitoring their health-status. Utterly frustrated with the ICMR’s indifference towards the gas-victims, BGPMUS, the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) and BGPSSS had filed a writ petition (No.50 of 1998) on 14.01.1998 before the Supreme Court of India urging the Court to direct the ICMR to restart Bhopal-disaster related medical research. The petitioners had also prayed that the ICMR and the BGTRRD be directed to expand medical infrastructure for gas-victims, provide proper medical care to all of them, and to issue health-booklet to each gas-victim with his/her complete medical record, etc. As a result, the Supreme Court on 25 July 2001 issued the following directions:

“With regard to those gas victims who are entitled to receive free medical aid throughout the life, permanent cards will be issued, while in other cases where claims are under process, provisional cards will be issued pending final outcome of their eligibility.”

Despite two further orders in this regard dated 17 July 2007 and 15 November 2007, ICMR and BGTRRD are continuing to flout the Court’s orders with impunity. While hearing in Writ Petition No.50 of 1998 was complete on 27 April 2012, the Supreme Court has reserved its order since then. Victim-groups are deeply aggrieved that even 14 years after filing the said writ petition, they have been unable to secure justice for the gas-victims regarding such relatively simple issues like ensuring a “health-booklet” to each gas-victim with his/her complete medical-record and restarting of disaster-related medical-research, which ICMR had abandoned in 1994. Even so, the 23-year-old legal-battle against the unjust Settlement is still being waged intensely before the Supreme Court despite the fact that the Court had rejected pleas for augmenting the Settlement sum on two occasions – in 1991 and 2007. Since then prima facie evidence has mounted and the Court has admitted the SLP (No.12893 of 2010), which members of BGPMUS and BGPSSS had filed on 17 March 2010 for enhancing the compensation amount. In addition, the decision of the Indian Government to file a Curative Petition on 03 December 2010 against the meagre Settlement amount has fully validated the contention of BGPMUS and BGPSSS in this regard. Under the circumstance, the undue delay in disposing of these matters relating to the Settlement of 1989 and denying them timely justice is needlessly prolonging the agony of the gas-victims.

Crime and No Punishment

Since CBI seems to be in no hurry to expedite proceedings in the Bhopal-disaster criminal case, it is highly unlikely that the accused will ever be prosecuted in their life-time. The fact that the criminal cases against UCIL and its seven accused officials are still pending before the Bhopal Sessions Court nearly 28 years after the disaster is a testimony of the State’s extremely callous attitude towards the concerns of the gas-victims and the soft corner it has for the accused.  Similarly, no serious attempt has ever been made either to bring the absconding accused, Warren Anderson, and other officials of UCC/UCE to justice or, after the revival of the criminal cases, to inspect UCC’s plant at Institute [presently owned by Bayer Corporation] for purposes of comparing safety-standards with those at its Bhopal plant, after the first such attempt was thwarted through the Settlement.

UCC, which is accused No.10 in the Bhopal-disaster criminal case, has again tried to evade its liability by becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (TDCC), USA, on 06 February 2001. In order to foil UCC’s game-plan, BGPSSS, BGIA and BGPMUS filed an application on 07 September 2001 before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, urging the Court to serve notice on TDCC to appear on behalf of UCC in the pending criminal case. UCC had already been proclaimed an absconder by the CJM vide order dated 01 February 1992 for repeatedly failing to respond to summons. After several hiccups, the CJM on 06 January 2005 issued an order directing TDCC to appear before the Court on 15 February 2005. However, on 17 March 2005, the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur stayed the said order of the CJM in response to an appeal filed by Dow Chemical International Private Limited (DCIPL), Mumbai, despite DCIPL claiming that it “has no direct nexus either in terms of holdings or in terms otherwise with TDCC USA and/or UCC.” [DCIPL’s affidavit before CJM, Bhopal, dated 03 September 2004]

If, indeed, DCIPL did not have any nexus with TDCC, under which section of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) could the High Court have granted stay to TDCC on an appeal filed by DCIPL? Although BGPSSS and BGPMUS did file a preliminary objection on 21 April 2005 questioning the locus of DCIPL and seeking immediate vacation of the stay, no orders have been passed for vacating the stay for last seven years despite the matter (MCRC No.1377 of 2005) being listed before the High Court on more than 38 occasions (including 25 times for “Final Hearing”). [See: http://ldemo.mp.nic.in/causelist/ciskiosk/] It is a classic example of how judicial proceedings are being manipulated to serve the interests of the accused. As a result, the gas-victims are nowhere near attaining justice with criminal proceedings in the Bhopal disaster criminal case having become almost farcical. The repeated pleas of BGPMUS and BGPSSS to the State Government to set up a Special Court for speedily disposing of the criminal cases have also fallen on deaf ears. With no one in the establishment apparently willing to speak-up for the gas-victims, their tenuous existence as orphans is becoming more and more pronounced with each passing day.

N. D. Jayaprakash is Joint-Secretary, Delhi Science Forum and Co-Convener, BGPSSS, Delhi.
E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Notes.

[*BGPMUS – an organization of gas-victims, which was founded in 1986

**BGPSSS – a coalition of over 30 all-India and Delhi-based organizations of workers, scientists, teachers, lawyers, artists, women, youth, students, etc., and concerned individuals, which was founded in 1989 to support the cause of the gas-victims.]

Wednesday, 27 June 2012 14:46

Post Polio Syndrome

Note: I will continue to update this page as I learn more so do return here from time to time.

Background

Since the mid 1960s, in the UK and other ‘western’ countries Polio has been little known. However before then it was a serious concern, particularly to children. Paralytic poliomyelitis is a ribonucleic acid virus that invades the central nervous system. There was no ‘cure’ for it as the virus caused paralysis in muscles. Those affected suffered a range of disability so there is no ‘typical’ victim. With some it affected one or both legs, with others an arm.

For many years it was considered a chronic but stable condition so no one took much notice after the initial care.

Now, however those people who suffered as children are reaching their late 50s and those who contracted it as young adults are even older, and they have been living with the disability for all those years. This will have taken a toll on the rest of their body and functionality.

Symptomology and Reasons

There is a range of symptoms associated with this:

  • Increased weakness in muscles and in new groups of muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in muscles or joints
  • Intolerance of coldness
  • Problems with breathing or swallowing
  • Change in functional ability associated with the disability

Medically the term Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) has been coined for this. The reasons, according to medical professions, for reaching this stage, when many people will seek medical support, are several, including:

  • Reactivation of the virus
  • Some immunopathologic condition
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Ageing
  • Reduced ability to compensate for the disability

There can also be spinal problems such as scoliosis and/or kyphosis and/or hyperextension (ie forward bend) of the neck.

The first of these will relate to the original illness and the second probably does. The third is probably just a guess while the fourth and fifth are probably to be expected as a result of living with a disability over many years. All of which gives strict diagnosticians problems in reaching their diagnosis because some symptoms and reasons can relate to other problems such as simply living with a physical disability for many years.

To these I, personally, would add:

  • Decreasing ability to compensate for weakness
  • Overuse of compensating muscles
  • Many years of your body being out of balance
  • Stress of living with disability

It seems to me inevitable that anyone who, for many years, has not had full and balanced use of all their physical body will start to suffer as they age. Apart from anything else there is a natural set of changes with anyone as they age. Even those who are very fit, will notice a lessening of their ability in physical activity and changes in their body. There are no 60 year old world record holders of 100 metre sprint – and this does not surprise us.

Treatment Possibilities

As with Polio, there is no cure for these problems. There are some drugs that have helped some people in some cases but as it is difficult to diagnose the exact cause their use is not fully proven.

There are two forms of treatment that have been shown to help and often bring improvements of abilities in daily living. The most tried and demonstrated for helpful long-term treatments are based on physical therapy. The second, less tried but generally found effective when used, is treatment with pulsed electro-magnetic field (PEMF) therapy.

Treatment with Physical Therapy

  1. Hands-on Treatment
    Spineworks does most of its work on the muscle and soft tissue so can be highly appropriate to supporting PPS. It also works on spinal vertebrae and the tissue surrounding the spine so can help with spinal problems and deformity. Other systems, including physiotherapy can also be used.
    1. Passive movement
      Passive movement, with or without stretching, is where the therapist takes (for example) a limb with the client relaxing and moves it just to the edge of its comfort – but not through! It helps to regain joint flexibility and also starts to open new nerve pathways as the limb can be moved in ways the client has not done before, or at least for a long time.
    2. Muscle Release
      It may seem contradictory that when muscles are weak they can also be contracted and this also applies to over-stretched muscle. Within someone with PPS, different muscles can be in different states. Some muscles will also be over strong as they have been used to compensate for weakness in other muscles.
    3. Vertebral Realignment
      In a person with PPS, as with others, there is no advantage in forced realignment but gentle techniques, such as with Spineworks, can help remove both scoliosis and kyphosis. Releasing tightness in the ribs can also help with breathing and flexibility, including in the spine.
    4. 2. Exercise and Movement
      Exercise and movement should form part of a recovery and maintenance programme but there are some specific guidelines to note in the recovery of PPS. Exercise and movement form a large part of Spineworks and most clients will be given some movement – regardless of whether they have PPS.
      1. a. The exercises must not over-fatigue. If a client is already getting fatigue from normal use then doing exercise to increase this will not help. Moderate effort with rest is the mantra and probably not on consecutive days. Pacing yourself and knowing or learning your limits is important.
      2. b. Isometric type exercise and isotonic movement with resistance can both be used both to release muscle tension (with only light effort) and to strengthen weak muscle (with slightly more effort). Thus they are ideal for many muscle problems. In physical therapy this type of work is called Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) and there are many varieties and they can be adapted to work with any muscle given some imagination on the part of the therapist and the client.
      3. c. Occupational Therapy
        Some specialized training such as occupational therapy can help with regular activity, such as walking (gait) and the stress of daily tasks. These usually will need specially trained people.

Treatment with PEMF
PEMF, as previously noted, stands for pulsed electro-magnetic field and is the name given to a range of devices that do precisely what that suggests! They pulse electro-magnetism into your body at varying frequencies.

Don’t be confused by the term TENS since you will doubtless have heard of TENS machines, developed decades ago. TENS stands for trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation which, simply put, means it passes an electrical stimulus across the skin. So, precisely, the general term TENS covers all and any device that passes a current through the skin, including modern PEMF devices. However the term has come to be used for the specific device that many people know, which has the purpose of reducing pain, still a disputed claim.

Modern PEMF has a different aim – to support cell healing. In brief, our cells work at a specific voltage and pH which changes when they are damaged physically or by disease. If  your  body system has insufficient energy to complete healing then a chronic condition sets in. PEMF can restore the voltage to encourage and support the completion of healing.

Wikipedia reports, “The value of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy has been shown to cover a wide range of conditions, with well documented trials carried out by hospitals, rheumatologists, physiotherapists and neurologists.” It is even approved by the FDA in America!

Based on a 2007 clinical trial, Thomas et al. concluded, ”PEMF may be a novel, safe and effective therapeutic tool for use in at least certain subsets of patients with chronic, nonmalignant pain.“ (Thomas, AW; Graham, K; Prato, FS; McKay, J; Forster, PM; Moulin, DE; Chari, S (2007). "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial using a low-frequency magnetic field in the treatment of musculoskeletal chronic pain". Pain research & management : the journal of the Canadian Pain Society = journal de la societe canadienne pour le traitement de la douleur 12 (4): 249–58. PMC 2670735. PMID 18080043)

A report in the British Medical Journal stated, “The scores of the 20 placebo patients and the 20 treated patients in each of the measured categories of swelling, pain, and disability were added together. In each category the percentage improvement in the treated patients was about twice that of the placebo patients.” (Fudenberg et al, Treatment of Soft-tissue Injuries by Pulsed Electrical Energy)

There are many PEMF devices available today though cost really determines that some are essentially for clinical use while others are good for home use. The difference is in the sophistication of the internal circuitry and levels of different frequencies and intensities. Most low-cost, home use devices have few or no choice of setting.

For treatment of PPS I would suggest a course of treatments at a clinic with devices such as the Myopulse/Acuscope, Skenar/Cosmodic or the Tennant Bio-modulator. Frequency of treatments could be at least weekly for a time, reducing as symptoms improve. In between sessions home use with a device such as the Micro-Doctor or Painsolv would help to maintain healing. (The Tennant system is the cheapest of the clinical devices and could be considered for home use also as an investment for a lifetime of use.) There are many other devices available but I do not have personal experience with them, do your own research and make your decision.

There are also special thin mats or mattresses ( eg Vita-Life) that give a pulsed field all over your body.  You may find that a mattress cover with magnets can help generally and also for improved sleep.

Some Resources

Feel free to contact me at Spineworks for more information. I can help with treatments in the midlands and London but in any other region you will have to search locally.

These are given without any guarantee:

Wikipedia has articles and many references on polio and post polio syndrome as well as both TENS and PEMF.

General searches on the internet for PEMF and TENS will find more than you can read including many articles and research papers as well as organisations and journals (eg the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry)

In the UK the British Polio Fellowship (www.britishpolio.org.uk) has information and the NHS also on www.nhs.uk/conditions/Polio-and-post-polio-syndrome

And, again, general searches on the web will find many sites with a polio and pps interest.

Your primary doctor or other medical carer may be able to help but detailed knowledge is not widespread.

Friday, 04 May 2012 08:04

"My Chiropractor"

“My Chiropracter”

I often hear people talking about “my chiropractor” or “my osteopath”. Or, maybe, when I am talking with them something like “I already have an osteopath who I see every month”.

It’s almost like this person belongs to them. Or somehow if they stopped going then it would be like breaking a long-term relationship.

A few days ago at a meeting I heard someone say it again, “well, of course”, she said, “I have my chiropractor who I go to see and he is very good. He always sorts me out.”

Now, most of us take our car to the garage every so many miles for a maintenance check and service. But if your car kept getting the same fault time and again after the mechanic had ‘fixed’ it, wouldn’t you be asking “why”? I doubt very much that you would return to the same garage again.

So why do people keep returning to “my chiropractor”? For every person I have spoken to it is always for the same problem.

This set me thinking.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 06:28

Dow and the Olympics

Dow Chemical and the Olympic Movement      by N. D. JAYAPRAKASH

(Published previously on www.counterpunc.com)

Despite Dow’s chequered history, an unwarranted controversy was created by the IOC and the LOCOG by inducting Dow as a partner of the Olympic Movement. For maintaining the spirit of the Olympic Movement and for upholding the sanctity of the Olympic Charter and the Code of Ethics, it is high time that the IOC and the LOCOG rescinded that decision.

In his reply dated 02.02.2012 to the letters of the Acting President of the Indian Olympics Association (IOA), Prof.V.K.Malhotra, dated 27.01.2012 and 18.12.2011, the President of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Mr.Jacquos Rogge, had said as follows:

“The IOC and LOCOG were aware of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy when discussing the partnership with Dow. Dow had no connection with the Bhopal tragedy. Dow did not have any ownership stake in the Union Carbide until 16 years after the accident and 12 years after the $470 million compensation agreement was approved by the Indian Supreme Court. The court has upheld this settlement twice since then, in 1991 and 2007. We understand that this is being reviewed yet a third time by the Indian Supreme Court and we are aware of Dow’s position in this matter and of the sensitivities of all parties.” [1]

It is obvious that the IOC and the LOCOG (London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) have merely chosen to believe the half-truths and misinformation that the Dow Chemical Company, USA, has fed them in this regard. On the contrary, the facts of the case are actually as follows:

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 06:26

What Bhopal Started

What Bhopal Started     by P. SAINATH

(Published previously on www.counterpunch.com)

Over 20,000 killed. Over half a million victims maimed, disabled or otherwise affected. Compensation of around Rs. 12,414 per victim on average on the 1989 value of the rupee. $ 470 million total. And that divided between 574,367 victims.) Over a quarter of a century’s wait. To see seven former officials of Union Carbide Corporation’s Indian subsidiary sentenced to two years in prison and fined $2100. Not a single person from the far more responsible parent US company punished.

Yet, the notion that the main injustice to Bhopal is a failure to extradite then UCC chief Warren Anderson from America is mildly ridiculous.  Trying to evade the lessons the 1984 Bhopal Gas disaster threw up on the tyranny of giant corporations is completely so. Well over two decades after its MIC gas slaughtered 20,000 (mostly very poor) human beings, Bhopal still pays the price of Carbide’s criminality. (Evident from the long-term impact on the health of the gas-affected and from the poisoned soil and water around the former Carbide plant.) While the Indian government’s appalling Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, if adopted, would give legal cover to such conduct across the country.

Bhopal marked the horrific beginning of a new era. One that signalled the collapse of restraint on corporate power.  The ongoing BP spill in the Mexican Gulf  –  with estimates ranging from 30,000  to 80,000 barrels per day  –  tops off a quarter of a century where corporations could  (and have) done anything in the pursuit of profit, at any human cost. Barack Obama’s ‘hard words’ on BP are mostly pre-November poll-rants. BP can take a lot of comfort from two US Supreme Court judgements in the past two years.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 06:21

The Crime of Union Carbide

The Crime of Union Carbide      by N. D. JAYAPRAKASH

(Published previously on www.bhopal.net and www.counterpunch.com)

The inhabitants of Bhopal became victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster when on the night of 02/03 December 1984 a huge toxic plume engulfed about two-thirds of the city for over two hours before dissipating. The highly poisonous gases had leaked due to exothermic reactions that took place in an underground storage tank, which contained nearly 41 tonnes of methyl-isocyanate (MIC), an extremely volatile and noxious chemical. The said storage tank had been installed at the pesticide plant of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) – a U.S. multinational company, which then held 50.9 per cent of shares of UCIL. The immediate human death toll, according to official figures, was around 2500 while the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) after a preliminary survey subsequently declared that residents of 36 of the 56 municipal wards of Bhopal, i.e., approximately about 600,000 of the nearly 900,000 people of the city, may have suffered injuries in varying degree. It is estimated that the death toll has since gone above 20,000. The impact of the disaster on flora and fauna in the affected area was equally staggering.

On 03.12.1984, the SHO, Hanumangunj Police Station, Bhopal, who observed people dying around the UCIL plant due to escape of some poisonous gases from the factory, registered a case suo moto under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He arrested five officers of the plant – presently accused Nos.5 to 9 – including J.Mukund, the Works Manager and S.P.Choudhary, the production Manager. On 05.12.1984, the Government of India (GOI) set up a scientific committee headed by Dr.S.Varadarajan, the then Director General of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), to study the scientific and technical aspects of the disaster and to prepare a report. On 06.12.1984, the Madhya Pradesh (MP) Government instituted a probe through a judicial commission known as the ‘Bhopal Poisonous Gas Leakage (1984) Inquiry Commission’ headed by Justice N.K.Singh – a then sitting judge of the MP High Court.

On 07.12.1984, Warren Anderson (Chairman – UCC), Keshub Mahindra (Chairman – UCIL), and V.P.Gokhale (Managing Director – UCIL) – presently accused Nos. 1, 2 and 3 respectively – were arrested on arrival at Bhopal. Several cases were registered against them under sections 304 Part-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 304-A, 426 (causing mischief), 429 (causing mischief by killing or maiming animals), 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health), 284 (negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance), and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC. However, after detaining him at the posh Union Carbide Guest House for barely six hours, Anderson, was released on bail of Rs.25,000. He was immediately flown to Delhi by a State Government aircraft and allowed to leave the country supposedly on condition that he would appear in court whenever summoned. Subsequently, accused Nos. 2 and 3 were granted bail by the MP High Court on 13.12.1984. Accused Nos. 5 to 9 were also granted bail by Sessions Court of Bhopal on 15.12.1984. (All the accused have been out on bail ever since.)

In January 1985, the ICMR undertook the task of identifying the toxic gaseous products and of studying their effects on human health. For coordinating some twenty-odd medical research projects, the ICMR also established the Bhopal Gas Disaster Research Centre (BGDRC) at Bhopal. During January/February 1985, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, in collaboration with the MP Government and several schools of social work from neighbouring states (with over 500 volunteers), undertook the task of carrying out a comprehensive house-to-house survey in the 36-gas affected municipal wards of Bhopal to identify the victims and to collate necessary data. Furthermore, on 08.08.1985, the GOI set up the “Scientific Commission for Continuing Studies On Effects of Bhopal Gas Leakage On Life Systems” headed by Dr.C.R.Krishna Murti, the former Director of the Indian Institute of Toxicological Research (IITR), for conducting studies on the toxic effects of the Bhopal disaster on life systems.

Immediately after the disaster, scores of organizations and individuals from across the country arrived in Bhopal out of concern for the fate of the victims and for offering assistance in the relief and rehabilitation work; a team from the Delhi Science Forum (DSF) was among them. DSF was also the first organisation to bring out a report on the disaster.[1] According to its findings, there was little doubt that the U.S. multinational company had installed obsolete and unreliable safety systems for its Bhopal plant. What was most shocking was that much prior to the disaster even the sub-standard safety systems at the plant had been shut off for reasons of economy or for maintenance. The Report pointed out that economy measures were also responsible for a manning policy, which depleted the plant’s experienced and trained personnel, and led to stationing of untrained personnel in critical areas of the plant.[2] Moreover, unlike UCC’s parent plant at Institute, West Virginia, USA, computerized monitoring and control systems had not been provided at the Bhopal plant. All these discrepancies persisted despite the fact that the MIC unit at Bhopal began its operation in 1980, while the MIC unit at Institute had been in operation since 1966.

What has subsequently become evident is that even if all the safety systems were in working order, a major disaster may not have been averted because the safety systems in place at the Bhopal plant were under-designed in relation to the amount of highly toxic material (MIC) stored there. That is, unlike those in its parent plant at Institute, the safety systems that had been installed at Bhopal were not designed for total containment.[3] Moreover, unlike the Bhopal plant, the Institute plant not only had a computerised automatic warning and alarm system in place but also had an emergency evacuation plan for the population of the town. These facts point to the adoption of double safety standards on the part of the UCC management, who had designed and set-up the Bhopal plant.

Violation of Safety Norms

UCC’s own brochure on MIC had clearly stated that:

(1) “Mythyl isocyanate (MIC) is reactive, toxic, volatile, and flammable” (p.1);

(2) it “is a hazardous material by all means of contact”;

(3) it “is a poison by inhalation”;

(4) it “should also be regarded as an oral and contact poison”; and

(5) “Stringent precautions must be observed to eliminate any possibility of human contact with methyl isocyanate.” (p.25)[4]

The extremely toxic and reactive nature of MIC required that the storage system was safe and its related instrumentation and control systems were of high reliability. The instructions in the said brochure in this regard specifically said:

“Maintain a tanks’ temperature below 15°C (about 60oF) and preferably at about 0°C (32°F). Equip a storage tank with dual temperature indicators that will sound an alarm and flash warning lights if the temperature of the stored materials rises abnormally.” (p.7)

It also said: “Keep the storage system and transfer lines free of contaminants.”(p.8) This was because: “Trace quantities of the contaminants are sufficient to initiate reaction…. The heat evolved can generate a reaction of explosive violence. Water reacts exothermically to produce heat and carbon dioxide.” (p.9) Therefore,

“…bulk systems must be maintained at low temperature. With bulk systems, contamination is more likely than with tightly sealed drums. The potential loss is much greater, too. The low temperature in a bulk system will not eliminate the possibility of a violent reaction, if contamination occurs. It will, however, increase the time available for detection of the reaction and safe disposal of the materials before the reaction rate reaches a dangerous speed.” (p.10) [5]

UCIL’s “Operating Manual Part-I – Methyl Isocyanate Unit” had also issued a fore-warning as follows:

“…it must be foremost in everybody’s mind that there is a probability of injury or accident round the corner. But these can be avoided if all are safety conscious and follow safety procedures strictly. Safety is our prime need. All chemicals like MIC, phosgene, HCl, CO, Chlorine, MMA, chloroform and caustic soda etc. however hazardous they are, can be handled safely by knowing the correct procedure. There is a correct way of handling them and there is “No Short Cut”. Any carelessness in operation will endanger you, your colleagues and everybody around you.” [6]

UCIL’s “Operating Manual Part-II – Methyl Isocyanate Unit” had stipulated stern safety norms for maintenance of “MIC Storage Tanks” as follows:

“(iv) Keep circulation of storage tanks contents continuously ‘ON’ through the refrigeration unit and maintain tank temperature below 5ºC. Set temperature instrument (TIA) to sound alarm at 11ºC.

(v) Watch for differential temperature instrument (RDRA) provided in the MIC make line. It will sound an alarm if the temperature difference between the probe provided near the storage tank and the probe near the MRS condenser, in MIC make line, exceeds 5ºC. Immediately divert the MIC make to the dump tank and take corrective action after establishing the reason….” [7]

However, contrary to the stringent requirements of keeping the MIC storage tank definitely below 5ºC, it is an admitted fact that over 85 tonnes of MIC had been stored under ambient temperature (i.e., above 15ºC and up to 40ºC) with the full knowledge of the concerned UCC/UCIL officials from June 1984 onwards. Therefore, it is amply evident that all the accused officials of UCC and UCIL had prior knowledge of the disastrous consequences of shutting off the refrigeration system in complete violation of stipulated safety norms; they cannot now pretend that they did not know that those safety norms had to be “stringently” observed.

The instructions in the said UCC’s brochure and UCIL’s safety manuals were unambiguous about the stringent safety precautions that were to be observed while storing and handling MIC. But, neither were adequate steps taken to prevent entry of foreign bodies (which act as reactive agents or as catalyst that trigger highly volatile reactions) into the MIC storage tanks nor were appropriate instrumentation systems and personnel in place to monitor and forewarn about any unusual pressure and temperature build-up in the storage tanks at the Bhopal plant. Moreover, the three critical safety systems – i.e., (1) the refrigeration unit (for keeping MIC “preferably at about 0°C (32°F)” so as to retard volatility); (2) the vent gas scrubber unit (VGS, for neutralising any escaping toxic material by chemical treatment); and (3) the flare tower (for burning off toxic gases in case of any accidental release) – had all been either shut off or were under repair at the time of the disaster. No stand-by systems were in place for use during breakdown or routine maintenance. These facts point to criminal negligence on the part of the concerned UCC/UCIL officials who did not take adequate precautions to prevent the disaster despite having prior knowledge of not only the highly hazardous nature of MIC but also that the pesticide factory was situated very close to thickly populated human habitations. UCC itself confirmed most of these facts in its Report, which was prepared by UCC’s Investigation Team that had visited Bhopal soon after the disaster to inquire into the circumstances that led to the gas leak.

UCC’s Report

According to UCC’s own Report, on the night of 2/3.12.1984, all the critical safety systems at the Bhopal plant had either been shut off or were dysfunctional:

(1) “The VGS had been removed from an operating mode to a standby mode on October 23, 1984, after the MIC unit was shut off with a total MIC inventory of 183,000 pounds [approx. 85,000 kgs.]” (p.11);

(2) “Prior to the incident, the flare tower had been removed from service for maintenance work and was not operating at the time of the incident” (p.11); and

(3) “The temperature of MIC in Tank 610 before the incident was at 15º to 20ºC as compared to the requirement of about 0ºC. The lower temperature would have retarded the reaction rates and considerably extended the time available for corrective action. The refrigeration system provided to cool the MIC in the storage tanks had been made non-operational in June, 1984.”(p.23) [8]

It may be noted that the refrigeration system was shutoff at the peak of summer when the maximum temperature in Bhopal usually crosses 40ºC. For the next five months – till the time of the disaster – over 85 tonnes of MIC had been stored in a highly dangerous way in total contravention of the prescribed safety norms. Knowing that “bulk [MIC storage] systems must be maintained at low temperature”, to act in a manner that patently violated UCC’s own basic safety norms was absolutely criminal. It seems rather strange that for five months UCE (Hong Kong) and UCC (USA) were unaware that the most critical safety system was not in operation at the MIC unit of the Bhopal plant, a plant which was storing large amounts of extremely hazardous MIC and a plant over which they exercised managerial control. [9] The subsequent shutting off of the VGS and the dismantling of the flare tower only compounded the problem. Even assuming that the UCIL management had acted on their own and had not informed its regional and global headquarters about the shutting off of the safety systems, what prevented UCC (USA) from alerting its subsidiary unit in Bhopal about the warning it received on 11.09.1984 about the possibility of a “runaway reaction” in bulk MIC storage systems?[10]

“It can’t happen here!”

After the UCC Investigation Team had completed its presentation at the said press conference, Jackson Browning, UCC’s Vice-President for Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs also addressed the press. He confined himself to the question of safety of the MIC operation at UCC’s plant at Institute, West Virginia, USA, which was closed down immediately after the Bhopal disaster.[11] The UCC’s Vice-president stated the following regarding the Institute plant’s eighteen-year record of safe operation:

“Could the same thing happen here? That’s the question people asked in December, and the question that many are still asking. We said ‘no’ in December based on our experience at Institute, our understanding of the process, and our confidence in our safety systems and procedures. Now, after the investigation, we are even more certain of our answer based on comprehensive analyses of what happened in the tank in India. We can confidently say: it can’t happen here.”[12]

Jackson Browning then went on to add:

“What if somehow the unthinkable happened, and contamination of the magnitude that occurred at Bhopal were to happen at Institute? What would happen then? First, I’ll talk about the underground storage tanks. We would get a reaction, but a controlled reaction. The reason is that the temperature of stored MIC is always maintained below 5 degrees centigrade – and when I say always, I mean precisely that – the temperature is never allowed to go above 5 degrees, and it is normally kept below zero degrees centigrade. So an operator checking instrumentation would note a rise in temperature soon after water entered the tank. In any case, within an hour after the introduction of water into the storage tank, the high temperature alarm would alert operators to the problem. They would put on full refrigeration and prepare to get rid of the liquid [MIC]. If refrigeration failed to keep the temperature of the liquid under 5 degrees centigrade, operators would begin pumping the liquid at top pump capacity of 60,000 pounds an hour to the emergency vent scrubber. The MIC would be completely destroyed in the scrubber before the temperature and the pressure in the tank increased sufficiently to open the safety valve.”

Furthermore, Browning said:

“But suppose that for some reason the operators are unable to transfer the MIC to the emergency vent scrubber? Temperatures in the tank would continue to rise and eventually reach boiling point [39.1oC].About four to five hours after the water entered the tank, the safety valve vent line to the scrubber would open. The quantity of gas that would be vented from the storage tank is well within the capability of the emergency vent scrubber and flare to destroy…. So when we said that a Bhopal type situation is inconceivable at institute, we had good cause…. In other words, we are talking about a well-run, very safe operation. We have in the MIC operation at Institute an extremely well-designed and well-engineered process, and an extremely well-run organization of skilled managers, supervisors and operators, with a demonstrated commitment to safety.”[13]

The system operated safely for 18 years at Institute, while at Bhopal the system crashed even before completing 5 years of operation! In other words, a Bhopal type situation “can’t happen here” and was “inconceivable at Institute” precisely because the safety systems that had been installed at Institute was far superior to that one that had been installed at Bhopal. The MIC stored at Institute was almost always maintained below zero-degree centigrade and was never allowed to go above 5°C under any circumstances. Even if it ever did, there was the high temperature alarm set at 5°C in place to alert the operators for taking corrective steps. Whereas in the Bhopal plant:

“The contents of the tank were being stored at ambient temperature, which varies approximately from +15°C to +40°C at Bhopal. The temperature of MIC in the storage tanks for most part of the year was higher than the high temperature alarm setting, i.e. +11°C. Indeed the temperature of the material in the tank was higher than the maximum of the range of the temperature transmitter, i.e. +25°C. In such circumstances the actual temperature was not known and the transmitter was of no value. Further, provision of ‘rate of rise in temperature’ alarm would have invited the operator’s attention to the start of such a reaction. No such provision was made.”[14]

At the Institute plant, an emergency high capacity scrubber (VGS) remained in operation and could neutralize MIC at the maximum rate of 60,000 pounds per hour. [15] At Bhopal, the installed low capacity scrubber (VGS) could neutralize MIC at the maximum rate of 21,000 pounds per hour [16] and even that service could not be utilized in time, as it was not in operation mode at the time of the disaster. At Institute, the flare always remained in operation to take care of any emergency. At Bhopal, the

“flare had been out of service for a month, in violation of Indian air pollution regulations. The flare pilot light was routinely extinguished when the plant was not operating, even with large amounts of MIC stored”! [17]

What else does all these gross violations of safety precautions prove other than the adoption of double safety standards on the part of the UCC management, which had overall control over the Bhopal plant?

Early warnings

The pesticide unit for manufacturing “SEVIN” (the brand name of one of the pesticides marketed by UCC) was commissioned at the Bhopal plant in 1977. It was initially operated by importing MIC (which was one of the basic chemical ingredients for manufacturing the pesticide) from the U.S. MIC was shipped to Bombay (Mumbai) in 200 litre high quality stainless steel drums and was transported to Bhopal by road. Ever since operation of the SEVIN unit began, chemical accidents became a common feature there. On 24.11.1978, there was a huge fire in the storage area of alpha-naphthol (another chemical ingredient for manufacturing “SEVIN”), which could be controlled only after ten hours. The fire caused huge loss to the company. [18]

Production of MIC commenced at Bhopal in February 1980. On 25.12.1981, plant operator Mohammed Ashraf Khan was killed after being exposed four days earlier to a leak of phosgene gas (a highly toxic chemical ingredient for producing MIC). The UCIL management tried to shift the blame for his death on to Ashraf Khan himself by claiming that he had ignored the necessary safety precautions while carrying out repairs on one of the phosgene pipelines. However, the workers alleged that it was disregard for even basic safety procedures on the part of the head of the production department, which had resulted in Asraf Khan’s death. On 09.02.1982, another phosgene gas leak caused 16 workers to struggle between life and death for several days. UCC (USA) had first hand knowledge of the accident, because senior executives of the company were visiting the plant on the day the accident occurred.

Due to rising incidents of accidents, a “Safety Week” was organised from 10 to 16 April 1982 at the Bhopal plant during which, according to workers’ union leader Hattim Jariwala, at least 10 accidents were reported. [19] Following the recent spate of accidents, UCC (USA) was forced to send a team of safety experts to India to carry out an Operational Safety Survey of the Carbon Monoxide, MIC and SEVIN units. In their confidential report, the UCC team, which carried out the survey in May 1982, had warned that a leak could occur due to “equipment failure, operation problems or maintenance problems.”[20] However, UCC’s “Safety Survey” team did not comment on the basic design defects in the safety systems or on the operational irregularities there, including the fact that the refrigeration unit was kept shut most of the time and was operated only intermittently at the time of transfer of MIC from the tank into the SEVIN pot.

It was Raajkumar Keswani, a Bhopal based editor and publisher of a Hindi weekly titled “Report”, who sounded the earliest clear warning of an impending catastrophe in Bhopal. In the lead article titled “Please Save This City”, which was published on 17.09.1982, Keswani tried to warn the residents of Bhopal of the imminent danger from the UCIL plant and about the possibility of a genocide being unleashed at Bhopal. Two weeks later, on 01.10.1982, Keswani published yet another warning in the same weekly with the headline: “Bhopal you are sitting on the mouth of a volcano!” But, because UCIL had such pervasive influence in Bhopal at that time, very few people were willing to heed Keswani’s unequivocal warnings. Yet the alarm that Keswani had raised was timely. On 05.10.1982, MIC did escape from a broken valve and had seriously injured four workers. People living in nearby colonies also experienced burning sensation in the eyes and had breathing trouble, because for the first time toxic gases had leaked into their homes. The residents ran away to save their lives and returned only after several hours. Luckily the leak was controlled in time before it caused further damage.[21]

Management’s Gross Indifference

The rising sense of insecurity forced Shahnawaz Khan, a Bhopal based lawyer, to serve a legal notice on the UCIL management on 04.03.1983 complaining about the danger, which the UCIL plant posed to the lives of the workers at the plant, to the population living in the nearby areas and to the environment. In his written reply to the notice sent by Shahnawaz Khan, UCIL’s Works Manager, J.Mukund, on 29.03.1983 stated the following:

“The various allegations made in your notice are baseless and have been made by you out of ignorance of our factory operations. Our pesticide complex at Bhopal like any such complex in the world is equipped with sophisticated devises for handling various types of chemicals in our manufacturing process or any hazardous incident in the course of manufacturing operations and all precautions are taken for safety of persons working in the factory as also those living in the vicinity…. In fact, we have taken appropriate precautions with a view to ensure that no pollution is caused by our pesticide complex and your allegation that the persons living in the various colonies near to the industrial area remain under constant threat and danger is absolutely baseless.”[22]

UCIL’s Works Manager, J.Mukund had made tall claims: (1) that “all precautions are taken for safety of persons working in the factory as also those living in the vicinity”; and (2) that “your allegation that the persons living in the various colonies near to the industrial area remain under constant threat and danger, is absolutely baseless”. Despite making such self-righteous assertions, Mukund, who is currently accused No.5, had the temerity to shut off all the three critical safety systems of the MIC unit at Bhopal with or without the apparent knowledge of UCE (Hong Kong) and/or of UCC (USA). He had shut off the refrigeration system as a cost-cutting measure in June 1984 at the peak of summer when the MIC unit was continuing to produce MIC. He had shut off the VGS in October 1984 soon after the MIC unit had stopped production after 85 tonnes of highly toxic MIC were stored in the MIC storage tanks. He then dismantled the flare tower for repairs. These highly callous and criminally irresponsible steps were taken in deliberate violation of all prescribed safety norms for handling MIC.

That was not all. On 16.06.1984, Raajkumar Keshwani again tried to warn the people of Bhopal about the impending danger from the UCIL plant through a lengthy article in ‘Jansatta’, a leading Hindi national daily, which too went unheeded. On 24.08.1984, another workers’ union leader, R.K.Yadav, made a written complaint to the Works Manager, UCIL, regarding air pollution and noise levels inside the undertaking. The union leader, in his complaint, stated the following:

“We have complained so many times against the rising pollution of air and noise in different departments of our factory…it is increasing day by day in uncontrolled manner…. It is known to you very well that some chemicals in our factory are so dangerous and helpful [sic] to develop chronic disease, if we work in such atmosphere for longer time and few chemicals can kill any person while taking minor exposure…. We request your good office to look into the subject matter and take appropriate steps…”

In his written reply to the above complaint, which was sent on the same day, the Works Manager, J.Mukund, stated the following:

“We are surprised to receive your letter dated 24.8.84 on the above subject…. As you must be aware, all our units are regularly monitored and the air quality at all places is within the internationally accepted standards laid down for the chemicals that we handle. The only exceptions may be of a temporary nature when there is a mechanical breakdown or some other abnormal situation…. It is the policy of this company to provide a safe and healthy working environment for all our employees. Chronic exposure to chemicals is prevented by proper engineering and personal protective equipment is provided to take care of abnormal situations…. You are, therefore, requested to refrain from making vague and general complaints which have no basis.”

The Works Manager, J.Mukund, does not seem to have any compunction in making false claims with a straight face. After shutting off the crucial refrigeration system of the MIC unit in June 1984, Mukund continues to claim that: “It is the policy of this company to provide a safe and healthy working environment for all our employees”! Moreover, despite being fully aware that the safety systems that were installed at the MIC Unit were under-designed in relation to its production and storage capacity as well as in comparison to the safety systems that had been installed at UCC’s parent plant at Institute, USA, Mukund was still claiming that: “Chronic exposure to chemicals is prevented by proper engineering”! Instead, he warned the workers’ union leader “to refrain from making vague and general complaints which have no basis”!

On 11.09.1984, the report of the safety survey carried out from 09 to 13 July 1984 at UCC’s premier plant at Institute, West Virginia, USA, was submitted to the UCC management. The UCC’s team of experts who conducted the survey pointed out in their confidential report a particularly grave danger: that water might contaminate the MIC in the unit storage tanks and start a runaway reaction. They stated in their report that:

“There is a concern that a runaway reaction could occur in one of the MIC unit storage tanks and that response to such a situation would not be timely or effective enough to prevent catastrophic failure of the tank. This stems from a combination of situations and possibilities, including: a) Block operation of the MIC II unit can result in the unit storage tanks being used for relatively long term storage, as opposed to the rather transient operation when the unit is running. One consequence of this is that the tanks tend to get less attention and be sampled less frequently than they do while being used exclusively as make tanks, with the resulting higher probability of a contamination going undetected for a relatively long period of time….”[23]

The grave danger that lay ahead at the Institute plant, about which UCC’s team of expert had forewarned the UCC management, was exactly the same danger that ultimately led to the disaster at Bhopal. The problem had been precisely identified by the UCC survey team; according to them when MIC unit storage tanks are “used for relatively long term storage…. the tanks tend to get less attention” and are “sampled less frequently…. resulting in higher probability of a contamination going undetected for a relatively long period of time….” While remedial work was carried out within a month at the Institute plant, the Bhopal plant was left to its fate.

Towards Disaster

The shutting off of the refrigeration system of the MIC unit in June 1984 signaled the beginning of the journey towards disaster. The crucial subsequent developments were as follows. According to UCIL:

“…from 22nd October 1984, the MIC manufacturing unit was shutdown because sufficient quantities of MIC had been manufactured and stored in the storage tanks for manufacture of SEVIN and further production of MIC was not necessary…. On 22ndOctober 1984, at the time of shut down of the MIC Plant there was 41 MT of MIC stored in Tank No. 610 and 43 tonnes of MIC stored in Tank No. 611. A small quantity of approx. one tonne of off-specification MIC had been stored in Tank No. 619, which was a standby tank. Between 22nd October 1984 and 24th November 1984, the SEVIN unit was also not operated. Production in the SEVIN unit was commenced on 24th November 1984, and it was continuing till 2nd December 1984, the day of the accident. During this time MIC from Tank No. 611 was being used for manufacture of SEVIN.”[24]

UCIL’s version of the sequence of events was not the complete story. The Varadarajan Committee, which was set up by the Government of India on 05.12.1984 to investigate the causes of the disaster, has disclosed another important piece of information:

“As per operating practice, MIC in the storage tank was normally kept under nitrogen pressure of the order of 1kg/cm2g. Reportedly till 21st October, the pressure in tank 610 was maintained at 1.25kg/cm2g…. The nitrogen pressure in the tank is also utilised to transfer MIC from the storage tank to the Sevin unit. As liquid material is transferred, the gas pressure in the tank would also show a gradual reduction….The tank would need to be pressurised again to a higher value by admitting high purity nitrogen [a gas that does not react with MIC] into the tank.” [25]

The Varadarajan Committee’s investigations further revealed that:

“From 22nd October to 30th November [1984], tank 610 was under nearly atmospheric pressure. No transfer of liquid MIC for Sevin manufacture took place from tank 610. During that period MIC was being transferred from tank 611 to the Sevin unit, whenever required. However, during the 30th November first shift, there were some problems in the pressurisation system of tank 611 and the pressure could not be increased. Therefore, attempts were made to pressurise tank 610 and transfer MIC from that tank to the Sevin unit, but it could not be pressurised. In the meantime, alternative system for pressurising tank 611 was made and then it could be pressurised. Transfer of MIC to the Sevin unit was then continued from the tank 611.” [26]

UCIL has admitted that:

“Unsuccessful attempts had been made to increase the pressure in tank 610 on 30th November 1984 and 1st December 1984. No further attempt was made to build up pressure in tank 610 after 1st December 1984.” [27]

Failure to pressurise Tank 610 was a loud and clear warning that something was terribly wrong in the storage system. Thus, even as late as 01.12.1984, corrective actions could have been initiated to prevent the ensuing catastrophe. The MIC had to be stored under the stipulated pressure of high purity nitrogen in order to prevent entry of other foreign bodies into the tank, because any such entry would set off or catalyze dangerous reactions. The Varadarajan Committee, therefore, had deduced that: “…the tank 610 could not be pressurised with nitrogen at any time after 22 October 1984.” Therefore, in its opinion: “The contents of the tank were virtually at atmospheric pressure from that date providing opportunities for entry of metal contaminants”.[28] [and, of course, water]

The UCC Investigation Team that visited Bhopal soon after the disaster too has admitted that:

“The header in the MIC facility also has an alarm to indicate low nitrogen pressure. This alarm is to alert the operators to take corrective action to prevent possible contamination.” [29]

This admission by the UCC team meant that for 42 days (between 22 October and 02 December), despite the “alarm to indicate low nitrogen pressure” being supposedly sounded, no corrective steps were taken by the UCIL managers and maintenance staff to raise the nitrogen pressure, thereby, leaving 41 tonnes of MIC in Tank 610 open to contamination all that time. On the other hand, if the alarm was malfunctioning and the operators were not alerted to the danger in time that would also be an admission that for at least forty-two days no inspections was carried out to ensure that all the instrumentation systems attached to the extremely hazardous MIC unit were in working order. Such serious lapses would amount to gross criminal acts on the part of the UCIL management. The UCC Investigation Team also acknowledged that: “Analysis of refined MIC from storage tanks is required to detect impurities in the tanks.” [30] Despite this stipulation, “there is no record of analyses of MIC in Tank 610 after October 19 [1984].” [31]

The Eruption

The first leak of MIC was noticed on 02.12.1984 at about 23.30 hours in the MIC structure area near the VGS. The operators on the ground level in this area felt the presence of MIC in the atmosphere due to irritation of their eyes. The operators who informed the plant superintendent and the supervisor that there was an MIC leak were advised to spray water around the point of leakage. Around 00.15 hours on 03.12.1984, the rupture disc of the tank that was set at 40 psig burst under intense pressure and the Safety Relief Valve (SRV) opened. Soon the field operator noticed gaseous cloud coming out from the stack. The siren was reportedly sounded around 00.30 hours and the plant personnel were alerted about the gas leak. From around 01.00 hours, water was sprayed to neutralize the gases but apparently it did not reach the top of the stack from where the gases were coming out. Around 03.00 hours, the SRV of Tank 610 is reported to have sat back, which stopped the further flow of gas through the stack. The maximum temperature and pressure that the mixture underwent in the tank during the violent reactions had a direct bearing on the types and toxicity of the reaction products that finally came out of the tank. According to the Varadarajan Committee, “…the mechanical examination of the tank indicates that the pressures may have reached 11 to 13 kg/cm2g with the corresponding temperatures in the range of 200 to 350ºC.” [32]

The amount and types of materials forced out of the tank have not been determined exactly. According to the UCC Investigation team:

“However, based on the heats of reaction, about 40 percent of the MIC reacting would release enough heat to raise the temperature of the tank and vaporize the remaining 60 percent of the MIC.”

The UCC Investigation Team further added:

“In order to discharge most of the contents of the tank within two hours, the pressure had to average 180 psig. At these conditions, material would be discharged at a rate of 40,000 pounds per hour: 29,000 per hour of vapor and 11,000 pounds of solid/liquid mixture. Approximately 54,000 pounds of unreacted MIC left Tank 610 together with approximately 26,000 pounds of reaction products.”[33]

Neither the senior managers of UCC nor of the UCIL can by no stretch of imagination claim that they were unaware of the disastrous consequences of criminal mismanagement. These officials had prior knowledge that MIC is an extremely lethal material and that any release of the toxic chemical into the atmosphere would have grievous impact on life systems and the environment of Bhopal. Its properties were such that “on thermal decomposition, MIC could produce hydrogen cyanide …carbon monoxide…”[34], i.e., its byproducts are also highly poisonous. Their failure to formulate in advance an emergency preparedness plan and an evacuation plan for the population of Bhopal only compounded the problem. Therefore, there is ample prima facie evidence to hold the management of UCC, UCE and UCIL and the three companies guilty of criminal acts that caused the catastrophe and to prosecute them under Section 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code through imprisonment and by imposing punitive fines.

Criminal Case

It was only on 01.12.1987 that the CBI finally filed its charge sheet against 12 accused (including Kishore Kamdar, Vice President, Agricultural Production Division, UCIL, as accused no.4; UCC, USA, as accused No.10; Union Carbide Eastern (UCE), Hong Kong, as accused No.11; and UCIL as accused No.12) before the CJM, Bhopal. [35] As a result, hearing in the criminal case began before the CJM on 04.02.1988. While accused Nos.2 to 9 and 12 were present; accused Nos.1, 10 and 11 were absent (and continued to remain absent at subsequent hearings). Since the CBI’s charge sheet also stated that further investigations were to be carried out in USA, the CJM, Bhopal, issued a Letter Rogatory dated 06.07.1988 addressed to the U.S. Government for the purpose. The said letter of request was issued to enable the CBI to inspect the safety-systems installed at the MIC unit of UCC’s Institute plant for purposes of comparing the safety-standards with those installed at the Bhopal plant. The CBI had also stated that it had to collect necessary documents pertaining to the case both from the U.S. and from Hong Kong. Subsequently, a CBI team led by DIG K.Madhavan and a senior scientist, Dr.M.Sriram, did visit the U.S. in November 1988 for the said purpose. However, the CBI team was forced to return without fulfilling its tasks since the U.S. Administration informed the CBI that it would have to wait until the State of West Virginia granted the necessary permission for the same.

When it became clear that Anderson was deliberately avoiding being present in the court, the CJM, after accepting the CBI’s application, proclaimed Anderson as an absconder on 09.02.1989 and directed the CBI to produce the accused before the Court on 31.03.1989. Shortly thereafter, on 14.02.1989, the U.S. Administration informed the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, that permission had been granted to the CBI to carry out the said investigations in the U.S. as per the Letter Rogatory. However, CBI’s attempt at executing its intended tasks in the U.S. was thwarted by the sudden Court-assisted settlement before the Supreme Court of India on 14/15.02.1989 between the GOI and the UCC for a sum of 470 million U.S. Dollars on the condition that all present and future criminal cases against UCC/UCIL would be quashed. Did the CJM’s decision on 09.02.1989 to issue non-bailable warrant of arrest against UCC’s Chairman, Warren Anderson, and the U.S. Administration’s decision on 14.02.1989 to permit the CBI to inspect the safety-systems of the MIC unit at UCC’s plant at Institute in West Virginia, USA, and for collecting the relevant documents, have anything to do with the sudden settlement? The criminal cases against the accused were revived on 03.10.1991 at the instance of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan (BGPMUS), the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS) and others, who had filed review and writ petitions against the settlement order. Although the CBI sought to revive the Letter Rogatory vide letter dated 24.12.1991 addressed to the concerned official at the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, the GOI has till date not made any attempt to facilitate the visit of the CBI to the U.S. to verify the allegation of adoption of duel safety standards by UCC. Execution of the said Letter Rogatory and verification of the said facts by the CBI are crucial to the entire criminal case.

It is, indeed, a big mystery as to why the GOI did not take any further steps to pursue the matter with the U.S. Government regarding execution of the said Letter Rogatory. The fact is that the said UCC’s plant at Institute in West Virginia, USA, is currently owned and operated by the West German chemical company Bayer and it is continuing to produce MIC based pesticides. Therefore, the CBI can still visit the U.S. and carry out the necessary comparative study if the GOI takes necessary steps to facilitate the CBI’s visit.

The crime of Union Carbide in causing the disaster has been compounded by the fact that the design and operation of the Bhopal plant had led to dumping of toxic wastes and effluents from the factory from beginning of its operations there in 1977 until the closing down of the plant following the disaster in 1984. It has resulted in the poisoning of soil and ground water in and around the UCIL factory. The several thousands of residents in the nearby areas, who were almost entirely dependent on hand-pumps for their daily domestic needs of water have become victims of slow poisoning by unwittingly consuming the contaminated water. It is becoming increasingly clear that the consequences of such consumption of contaminated water could be very devastating to the health and wellbeing of such victims of environmental degradation.

Under the circumstances, merely pursuing the criminal case relating to the release of toxic gases on 02/03.12.1984 is not enough. Criminal cases must also be instituted against UCC (presently owned by the Dow Chemical Company, USA) and the concerned officials of UCC, UCE and UCIL for wanton destruction of the environment through unfettered dumping of toxins and for inflicting grievous injuries on unsuspecting citizens of Bhopal. The Government of India and the Government of Madhya Pradesh must also be held accountable for their gross negligence in failing to carryout periodic safety inspections and monitor the design, maintenance and operation of the pesticide factory that was producing and storing highly hazardous chemicals and polluting the environment.

N. D. JAYAPRAKASH is Joint Secretary, Delhi Science Forum & Co-Convener, Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS, a coalition of organizations supporting the cause of the Bhopal gas victims) He can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

End Notes:

[1] The report titled “Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Looking Beyond”, was released at a Press Conference in Delhi on 18.12.1984 by Mr. P.N.Haksar, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the then President of Delhi Science Forum.

[2] Subsequent research uncovered that: “The number of blue-collar workers employed had been reduced from 850 to 642 over two years preceding the event; management had cut operator strength as much as half in potentially dangerous operations…. Unqualified people were running the plant at the time of the release. Certified chemical plant operators had been replaced by less skilled operators, and only a relatively untrained supervisor and maintenance workers were present at the time of the incident.” Barry I. Castleman and Prabir Purkayastha, ‘The Bhopal Disaster as a Case Study in Double Standards’, in Jane H. Ives (ed.), “The Export of Hazard”, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1985, p. 217

[3] Total containment was a process by which the entire toxic material that is stored in a factory could be contained and neutralised within its premises in case of an accident.

[4] ‘Mythyl Isocyanate – F-41443A’, Union Carbide Corporation, 270 Park Avenue, New York 10017,July 1976

[5] Ibid

[6] Union Carbide India Limited, Agricultural Products Division, Bhopal, October 1978, p.122

[7] Union Carbide India Limited, Agricultural Products Division, Bhopal, February 1979, para 4.10.1, pp. 36-37

[8] UCC Investigation Team Report titled “Bhopal Mythyl Isocyanate Incident” was released at a Press Conference, which UCC held on 20.03.1985 at Danbury, Connecticut, USA

[9] According to reports, “Carbide USA is alleged to have approved of turning off the MIC coolant system (‘chiller’), a measure which effected significant savings in energy operating costs…. It is unthinkable that such a vital safeguard would be sacrificed at a US plant with large-scale storage of MIC. Union Carbide India Ltd. publicly announced an energy saving of 18% from conservation measures in its Annual Report for 1983.” See Castlemen & Purkayastha, op cit., pp.217-218

In fact, there is irrefutable evidence provided by Defense Witness No.8, Mr.T.R.Raghuraman, who deposed before the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal, on 22.02.2010, that it was on 07.01.1982 that Warren Woomer (from UCC, USA), the then Works Manager at UCIL, Bhopal, who took the decision to shut off the refrigeration system and to operate it only intermittently. According to the said witness, this was evident from the Technical Instruction Note (Document No.37 dated 12.01.1982, exhibit no.46), which the Prosecution has submitted as evidence before the Court of the CJM. The said witness has also revealed that the UCC’s Inspection Team that prepared the Operational Safety Survey Report in May 1982 had not opposed this decision. Neither accused No.5, J.Mukund, who succeeded Warren Woomer as Works Manager at UCIL, Bhopal, nor any of the other accused officials of UCIL did anything to reverse the shocking decision, which left huge quantities of MIC in the storage tanks not at 0º Celsius as stipulated by UCC’s brochure and UCIL’s Operation Safety Manuals but at ambient temperature, which always ranged between 150 Celsius and 400 Celsius.

[10] An internal memorandum of UCC dated 11.09.1984, had warned that a “runaway reaction” could cause a catastrophic failure in the storage tanks holding the poisonous MIC at UCC’s Institute Plant in West Virginia, USA. This was evident from the statement that was released in Washington, D.C., on 24.01.1985 by Congressman Henry Waxman (Chairman, House Sub-committee on Health and Environment of the US Congress).

[11] The Institute plant subsequently resumed operations soon after the UCC Investigation Team released its report on Bhopal. Currently, the Institute plant is owned and operated by Bayer, the German chemical giant, and continues to produce MIC based pesticides.

[12] Statement of Jackson Browning, UCC’s Vice-President for Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs, released at the Press Conference addressed by him on 20.03.1985 at Danbury, CT, USA

[13] Ibid

[14] ‘Report on Scientific Studies on the Factors Related to Bhopal Toxic Gas Leakage’ (The Varadarajan Committee Report), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, Sardar Patel Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi, December 1985, p.74

[15] Statement of Jackson Browning, op cit.

[16] Varadarajan Committee Report, op cit., p.74

[17] Castlemen & Purkayastha, op cit., p.216

[18] Raajkumar Keshwani, ’Jansatta’ (Hindi national daily), 16.06.1984

[19] ‘Dainik Aalok’ (Hindi daily), Bhopal, 24.04.1982

[20] L.A.Kail, J.M.Paulson, C.S.Tyson: “Operational Safety Survey, CO/MIC/SEVIN Units, Union Carbide India Limited, Bhopal Plant, May 1982” , Union Carbide Corporation, Chemicals and Plastics, P.O. Box 8361, South Charleston, West Virginia 25301, p.2

[21] ‘Nav Bharat’ (Hindi daily), Bhopal, 07.10.1982

[22] J.Mukund’s written reply has been admitted as evidence and marked as Exhibit No.P2906 in criminal case No.8460 of 1996 before the Court of the CJM, Bhopal.

[23] Internal memorandum of UCC dated 11.09.1984, released by U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman, op cit.

[24] Quoted in the Written Statement of UCC dated 10.12.1986 that was filed before the Court of the District Judge, Bhopal, in Regular Civil Suit No.1113 of 1986. See Upendra Baxi and Amita Danda “Valiant Victims and Lethal Litigation: The Bhopal Case”, Indian Law Institute, Delhi, 1990, pp.85-86

[25] Varadarajan Committee Report, op cit., pp.11-12

[26] Ibid

[27] Quoted in the Written Statement of UCC dated 10.12.1986 that was filed before the Court of the District Judge, Bhopal, in Regular Civil Suit No.1113 of 86. See Baxi and Dhanda, op cit., p.75

[28] Varadarajan Committee Report, op cit., p. iii

[29] UCC Investigation Team Report, op cit., p.8

[30] Ibid

[31] Ibid, p.21

[32] Varadarajan Committee Report, op cit, p. 76

[33] UCC Investigation Team Report, op cit., p.24

[34] Para 9 of the Charge Sheet filed against the accused in the Bhopal gas leak disaster case by the CBI on 01.12.1987, before the Bhopal District Court. See Baxi & Dhanda, op cit., p.642

[35] See: Baxi & Dhanda, op cit., p.639

 

Friday, 27 January 2012 22:39

Bhopal for Dummies (briefly)

1984 – 40 tonnes of toxic gas poisoned most of the population of northern Bhopal.

2012 – Children are being born today with congenital disability, such as cerebral palsy, at a rate about 6 times the rest of India. The polluting toxins that affected their parents or grandparents 27 years ago are causing these innocent little victims to suffer for the whole of their lives.

***************************

It was many years ago in 1984, that a factory owned by the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC)  spewed out a highly toxic gas (41 tonnes of methyl-isocyanate) into the air around a chemical plant. It was just after midnight on the 2/3 December in Bhopal, India.

The actual facts, as so often in these cases, are disputed, but most evidence agrees that not a single one of the safety systems was functional. Of the 6-layer safety system four layers were faulty and awaiting repair and two were turned off, it is thought to save money. The gas storage temperature is recommended as less than 15ºC and the temperature measure was also turned off or not working. The cause of the explosion was water entering the tank where the gas was stored.

That very night thousands of people died in probably the worst industrial disaster in the world. More people have died and will suffer longer than Chernobyl.

One reason for this is that the disaster is not restricted to the gas leak. For years before, the company was dumping toxic wastes around the factory site in inadequate containers. After the incident the site was abandoned to the elements and more containers of chemicals rusted or broke down spilling contents over the ground. With every rainy season these chemicals have been washed through the soil into the groundwater aquifers from where it has been pumped up for drinking, washing, cooking etc, even for children to splash around in.

Through the ensuing years many thousands more have died from illnesses caused by the gas and water and its after effects. After the gas dispersed, those still alive suffered with a wide range of sickness - and still suffer. Rates of asthma, diabetes and cancer are much higher than in the rest of India. The rate of babies born with congenital problems and disability is some 6 times the rest of India.

Even though the local authority of Madhya Pradesh provides a limited number of tankers of water it can be spasmodic and does not reach all the people with affected water supplies.

It is estimated that over 100,000 people are chronically sick from the effects of that night and in addition 30,000 are ill from polluted water, including second and third generation children. Local campaigners estimate that about 500,000 people live in the area of northern Bhopal affected and that some 90+% are affected to a greater or lesser extent.

In 2001 Union Carbide was bought by Dow Chemical and that company refused to take on any responsibility for which UCC may have been liable in Bhopal. The company was happy to take on UCC assets but refused to take on the liabilities. In 2011, seven former local management employees were convicted in the Indian courts but none of the American company senior managers or directors have even faced a court hearing. A court in USA has ruled that they must face charges in India but then refuses to extradite them. How Kafkaesque is that?

The campaigns for justice and reparation continue from Bhopal with a group of organisations working together under the banner of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal with a website of www.bhopal.net. This is the visible side of what is happening and from time-to-time the international press and public hear of efforts.

Most of the people affected are poor and live in slum or semi-slum areas. They cannot afford medical treatment or even to move away. Many are illiterate.

There is only one place they can go for help. It is the Sambhavna Clinic which is located near the affected people in the north of Bhopal. Here they can receive care and treatment free of charge with a mix of allopathic and ayurvedic therapies (for which they grow most of the herbs), massage and yoga. And they have a great record of success with children and adults alike.

Specifically for children is the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre, created by two winners of the 'alternative Nobel' prize. This supports families with children born with a whole range of problems; cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Downs, learning problems, blindness, deafness, speech defects.

These clinics are funded mainly by public donations through The Bhopal Medical Appeal (BMA) here in the UK. The government of India has approved plans to provide funds but the system is so corrupt it is doubtful how much will reach either clinic. The charity is a small-scale charity operating from a single office in Brighton.

I went to Bhopal as a volunteer at the clinics and worked alongside the staff there, offering Spineworks and Reiki treatments. I wish to return to do more work with them. Any donation you make will further the valuable work of this small charity.


Some Facts that you may not now:

  • it was between 3,000 and 15,000 that died on 3 December, depending on who is counting.
  • many pregnant women spontaneously aborted that day and in the following days.
  • at least another 17,000 have died since as a direct result.
  • one person dies every day from the effects. (figures to 2010)
  • many families have only one parent surviving.
  • the compensation went to only 573,588 of the victims. About $500 equivalent each.
  • the compensation works out to 3p if spread to all the people who should have received it.
  • thousands of people who breathed the gas are still suffering from lingering poisoning. (Over 90% of the population of north Bhopal.)
  • In a study in 1985, 71% of people within 10km of the site showed chromosomal damage. The control showed 21%.
  • people will suffer* for the rest of their lives. And some of them are still only in their late 20s.
  • water pollution was caused because toxic chemicals dumped on and around the site have been washed into the ground water source.
  • these poisonous chemicals and heavy metals are still being washed into the soil and spreading the water pollution by 200 metres every year.
  • people still have to drink this water.
  • babies born to parents exposed to the gas or water are several times more likely than babies in the rest of India to have some form of congenital malformation**.
  • no-one knows when this inheritance will stop. If ever. Probably never.
  • Dow Chemical bought UCC in 2001 and refuses to accept any liability.
  • Dow still will not tell the Indian Government the exact gases to which people were exposed to and their effects on the body.
  • Dow is a major sponsor of the Olympic movement and, in particular, the 2012 London Olympics

* Health problems include lung and breathing problems, many gynaecological issues including sterility, blindness. Cancer rates are high, diabetes rates are high, asthma rates are high.

**The range of congenital disability is wide and mostly on the spectrum of Cerebral Palsy, including physical deformity,  Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), deafness, learning disability, developmental problems.

  • local hospitals are giving out pharmacological drugs not knowing if they will work and not concerned about the potential side effects.
  • some hospitals are effectively carrying out drug trials on these unknowing people.
  • the Sambhavna Trust Clinic is the only medical facility where victims of water pollution as well as those with gas after effects can receive treatment, free of charge.
  • the Chingari centre is the only place where parents exposed to the gas or groundwater can get help, education and treatment for their disabled children, free of charge.
  • Sambhavna and Chingari are funded solely by charity and personal donations.

You want to know how you can help?

The Bhopal Medical Appeal (BMA) is a UK charity (1117526) based in Brighton, UK which campaigns on behalf of all the victims and provides financial support for the operation of both Sambhavna and Chingari.

If you want to volunteer your skills and time to help from home, in Brighton or in Bhopal contact the BMA via their website or call +44 (0) 1273 603278 and they will pass on your message as appropriate.

The BMA, Sambhavna Trust and Chingari Trust are registered charities in their countries.

Full details are on the contact page of the website, www.bhopal.org

OR

Why not go to my 'Bhopal Book' page and buy my book about my visit there

which will raise funding for these two clinics and the BMA

AND/OR

You can donate via http://www.justgiving.com/Spineworks or

an internet transfer to sort code 08-92-88, account number 12147113 and put Bhopal and your name as the reference.

Friday, 04 November 2011 02:45

The Prostate Page

"That's a good article on the prostate by the way, a nice non-technical, or not too technical summary. I suppose another way to think about testing for PSA is a bit like a smoke alarm. If it goes off, there may not actually be a fire, but it's always good to carry out a few simple tests first just to make sure there isn't, …" - Peter Davis, pathologist

Introduction and Background

This is not a definitive guide to prostate health or to the functioning of the prostate gland. Nor am I an expert. I am a guy who is interested in health generally both as a professional body therapist and as a human being – and I start with my own health.

Neither do I have anything to sell.

Probably like you, or your husband/partner/boyfriend if you are a female reading this, I knew little about the prostate gland for many years. I thought it had something to do with sperm production (it does) but that was about all. I never referred to it as the ‘prostrate’ gland though! Then as I went through my late 50s and early 60s (I am now 63) I started to have slight problems with peeing, ie urination. I never reached the stage of having to get up several times a night or having to force it, but none-the-less there was clearly some sort of problem.

I happened to move to Warwick in 2008, and when I registered with a new doctor in mid-2009 I requested a blood test to measure Prostate Specific Antigen, usually known as PSA. My doctor, fortunately, agreed. Some refuse, I understand – and you can insist.

The reading came back as 5.3. The first question then was, “well, what does that mean?” At that stage my doctor actually confessed that he was not well up on men’s health specifically as the vast majority of his patients were female or children. I found this refreshingly honest of him. He did say that the PSA reading was above ‘normal for my age’ (‘normal’ being approximately 4) but not seriously so, and that we should monitor the levels every three months.

So, already I had met two problems; a doctor with little specific knowledge and a lack of certainty on the interpretation of the numbers.

Maybe it is a reflection on the focus of medicine and health that there is no agreed international standard scale for PSA measurement. Even within the scale we use there seems to be no UK-wide agreement as to what constitutes a serious problem at the lower end of the scale which is where it really matters. If you had a reading of (say) 50 you could immediately say there was a serious problem, but if it was (say) 11, is that serious or just a bit worrying?

Some doctors would rush you off for a digital rectal examination or a biopsy and others would say, “let’s keep an eye on it.”

In my case, being only a ‘little high’, regular monitoring every three months seemed like a sensible optio to both of us. In the meantime, I thought, I can do some research myself if the doctor knows little. I learnt a lot.

On one of my visits to the Post Office I spotted a notice stating that the Graham Fulford Charitable Trust (GFCT) was in Warwick giving a talk about Prostate Cancer and offering free PSA tests. In fact Graham lives near Warwick but does go to other parts of the country to give talks etc. (See the resource list later.) So I went along and, being a curious soul and knowing by then the variability of the test, decided to have a test from them.

I continued to have tests from both the GP surgery and the Trust as you can see from the table below, which lists the results from my readings over the next couple of years:

Doctor GF Char Trust
June 2009 5.3
Sept 2009 6.6
Dec 2009 5.0
24 April 2010 4.0 4.9
15 July 2010 5.4
26 August 2010 3.8
14 December 2010 3.3
17 March 2011 3.5
16 June 3.2
28 June 4.0
Mid Sept (India)* 3.6
November (India)** 3.6
January* 2012 4.4 3.4
June 2012 4.0

*These readings were about two weeks apart and the CFCT on was using the Mediwatch PSAwatch point of care scanner.

The GFCT doctor is not great at record keeping but does have a really good heart and a lot of experience in the field. So, when my reading was at 5.4 according to their test lab, he sent me a letter advising me to take further action and see a consultant. So, you see, not only is there variability in the numbers, there is also variability in the interpretation of those numbers. They have kept following up on this, despite the change in my readings.

It’s one of those interesting things about science that when it puts a scale on something it thinks that is enough! And yet it is the scientists who interpret that scale that then decide what it means. And no-one takes into account the infinite variability of each human.

Personally, I think advising someone of 62 to take further action (which usually means seeing a consultant) when a man’s reading is 5.4 is a bit premature. We should be advising him to look at his health and immune system and work from the inside out rather than the outside in. But more of that later.

My way of alleviating my symptoms and reducing the PSA reading from 6.6 at its highest to its now 3.4 at its lowest was with diet (although I was already a vegetarian and I cook most of my food myself from raw ingredients), supplementation, alkalising (bi-carb) and lots of Reiki.

And, I have not found a single doctor interested in how I did this.

For now, a little bit of biology:

Where is it?

The prostate is positioned just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder through the penis and outside. It also carries the semen during ejaculation.

How big is it?

The prostate is tiny at birth but after puberty it enlarges, with rising levels of testosterone. In an adult man it is about the size of a walnut. (Dependent upon the size of the man of course!) Unlike other glands, which stop growing, it continues to grow very slowly throughout life

What does it do?

It makes the liquid of semen. Sperm are produced in the testicles and then stored just behind the prostate in the seminal vesicles in a ‘jelly’. At orgasm and ejaculation, the prostate and seminal vesicles contract, mixing their respective contents which liquefy the jelly to aid movement of the sperm in its search for an egg (ovum).

What is the Prostate Specific Antigen?

It is this substance within the fluid in the prostate that liquefies the gelatinous sperm mixture.

Now on to a bit of science:

The fluid PSA leaks into the bloodstream, so every man will have a certain amount in his blood. Although I use the term ‘leak’ this is not like a plumbing leak which you want to stop. It is perfectly normal and, as far as we are aware, should be happening.

The amount that leaks varies with every single man on the planet. There is no ‘norm’.

However, this is why doctors can take a blood sample and test it for PSA. And why the test is unreliable.

What do the numbers mean?

The test measures the amount of PSA present in your blood in nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml). The amount in the blood tends to increase with age anyway and, although there is no normal (I stress this again), science does suggest what you might expect, depending on your age.

Age

PSA level

40-49 years

Up to 2.5

50-59 years

Up to 3.5

60-69 years

Up to 4.5

Over 70 years

Up to 6.5

So, in a purely logical/scientific way, all it tells you is that you have so much PSA in your blood and, by implication, how much leaks. Now, I don’t know if or how the PSA is removed, for example by the liver or spleen. So does it simply build up over the years or what? So as you see, it cannot be a terribly reliable test, but it is the only one we have so we must make the best use of it.

Anything other than the number is an interpretation and will depend on the opinion of the person giving it to you. So, always insist on being given the actual number of the result. If the person says it is ‘normal’ or anything else, just ask for the number.    Then you can make your own interpretation and have a discussion with your doctor. Don’t just rely on his or her opinion as, like mine, he or she may know little about it.

How Consistent are the Results?

There are different ways of measuring PSA. Thus depending on the method and the scale used you will get different results from different laboratories. You may have noticed the variation in readings of my results.

This is just one reason why the test is not perfect, and if your reading is just ‘a little high’ you should monitor it for a while – whilst taking action to change it, of course. (Monitoring and doing nothing is useless.) The GFCT doctor did say to me that if the level goes up and down then be happy. In fact there are other reasons why it may vary: for example some places advise not to ejaculate for at least 24 hours before, and some say 48 hours. But if they don’t tell you before you go that could skew the result.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a problem?

Basically, you should know your body better than anyone else with a measuring stick, so start by knowing what is normal for you. You should know if things are changing. The first sign to appear is usually a change in your habits of urination.

Since the growing prostate surrounds the urethra it will squeeze it and thus restrict the flow of urine. This can make it harder to pee and also mean you need to make more effort to expel the urine. You may no longer be able to write your name in the snow with it!

Here is a list of possibilities to help you think about your own situation:

  • A weak or intermittent flow of urine.
    • Difficulty starting to urinate.
    • A need to urinate frequently.
    • A need to urinate urgently (you do not feel able to put it off).
    • Having to go to the toilet several times during the night.
    • Feeling that your bladder is not completely empty after you have finished urinating.
    • Pain or burning when passing urine.
    • Blood in your urine.
  • Pain in the back, hips or pelvis. (In combination with some of the above.)

There are cases where cancer has been found in an advanced state without any prior symptoms so it is wise to have a test if you are over 45 or so - especially if it is only a blood test.

What should you do if you notice a problem?

Or, if your partner gently says to you, “don’t you think you ought to go and see the doctor about your peeing problem, darling?”

Ask for a PSA test.

The first thing is to have a PSA test. If your doctor says no or tells you that ‘you’re too young for that’, then just insist. It is your right. It won’t tell you a lot but it gives you a number against which to monitor change, and science loves that. And it is genuinely helpful in that regard.

What will the result tell me?

A non-normal reading does NOT mean that you have cancer of the prostate. There are two other, more common reasons for a high PSA reading:

  • You may have an infection in your kidneys or bladder. A urine sample may be able to confirm this.
  • Your prostate my simply be over enlarged. You may recall me writing earlier that the prostate continues to grow through life so it may have grown too much. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia! or BPH for short.

How does that help?

Well, not a lot but it gives you a couple of things to look at before you start worrying about cancer.

You already know you have a problem otherwise you would not have gone to see the doctor. Just remember that the doctor really has no better idea of what it might be than you. All you both know is that you have a higher than ‘normal’ PSA result.

Unless you have a REALLY high reading and/or you have had this developing problem for years on end and done nothing about it, you do not have to rush off and have a rectal examination or biopsy. Talk with your doctor to see what s/he thinks and together make a plan. See later for my suggestions.

ANY physical prodding or poking of the prostate carries with it the possibility of making things worse simply by aggravating the gland – no matter how remote that possibility may be.

BPH?

This is the most common cause of a high reading and the symptoms, affecting about 30% of men in their 50s and about 50% of those in their 60s, increasing with age.

It is caused by the prostate gland growing too much. No-one really knows why, though it may be related to testosterone levels.

If your PSA is high and your symptoms severe then you may need to be treated in a specialist unit in a hospital, and a digital rectal examination will be a necessity.

Otherwise there are other things you can do to improve your situation – see later for my suggestions.

Infection?

This is the second most common cause of the symptoms listed (and thus a high reading) and represents probably 25% of all referrals. There are several possible infections, and there are different ways they can be investigated, including by a urine sample, so this is probably the first thing to check thoroughly.

My doctor did not do this and it was only when I was working as a volunteer in Bhopal (see my other blogs) that the Ayurveda doctor there had the pathology lab do this test. The result was that there was a possible infection for which he gave me a remedy, which worked and left the urine clear.

Discuss it with your doctor and see later for my suggestions.

What other test are there?

Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)?

This is where the doctor dons his/her surgical gloves and puts his/her finger along your anal canal to feel through its wall to where the prostate sits, which is just anterior of the anal canal. Most doctors will be inexpert at this and not really know what they are looking for so it is advisable to ask to be referred to a clinic where they do it all the time.

That way there is less likelihood of it creating a problem and more likelihood of having a knowledgeable discussion.

It is possible to get an idea of the problem by the feel of the gland. Some specialists claim they can tell if there is a cancer growing by this test; maybe they can, and maybe they can’t. Other than that, this examination will only confirm what you already know.

Biopsy

This is the ultimate test and should be left until last. It is medically acknowledged that it can worsen the problem. Have this done only if you are pretty certain that you have a fast growing, aggressive cancer.

Most men over 60 (at least) will have cancerous cells in their prostate. Most of us will die with prostate cancer; few of us will die because of it. A pathologist friend of mine wrote to say that the vast majority of the male bodies he examines have cancer cells in their prostate and it was not cancer that killed them. He also said that he sees many biopsies from men with a high PSA reading but which show no signs of cancer. He added that our bodies are capable of causing little bits of pre-cancer to regress, or disappear, via the activity of the immune system.

What do I do next?

Whatever the result, you do have a choice about how you deal with it. Don’t be rushed, especially if the reading is only ‘a little high’.

You may want to do your own research, and I would encourage that, whatever your inclination. There is a wealth of information around now with books and, of course, the internet. There are also support organisations such as the GFCT which will help with tests, leaflets and advice, though some do tend to be focused on cancer as if it were the only thing that a high PSA reading could predict.

Whichever way you decide to go, do it wholeheartedly and don’t let anyone put you off.

The Medical/Allopathic Way

I have to confess that my knowledge of this approach is sparse. I do know people who have had successful operations to remove aggressive cancers and who are perfectly healthy and normal in function now.

I also know that all surgery (in fact all anything) carries risk. The risks of an operation are that there could be no improvement in peeing, pain, impotence, or incontinence, and if it doesn’t work you cannot reverse it. Talk to your doctor or consultant to get the latest figures. Prostate Action says, "Men who undergo traditional treatment have a 50% chance of achieving the so-called trifecta status – the ‘perfect outcome’ with no urine leak, good erections and cancer control at 12 months after surgery or radiotherapy.”

The route would be something like this:

  • Have a PSA test
  • Have tests for infection (I put this first as it is non invasive)
  • Have BPH tests (including DRE)
  • Have a biopsy (if your doctor thinks it is an ‘aggressive’ cancer and thus will spread to other places).
  • Have an operation to remove the cancer
  • Follow up with chemo-therapy or radiation therapy. (Which can be supported by good diet.)

Stopping as appropriate at any point.

Important Note (April 2012): There is current research into the use of ultrasound for the treatment of prostate cancer. Early results are encouraging with reduced side effects and a 90% success rate of complete cure after 12 months. You an read more on the Prostate Action website which I am sure they will keep up-to-date.

The Alternative or Complementary Route

If you choose this route do be aware that it also carries risk – you could die of cancer. However you may also successfully reduce the size of your prostate, remove all infection or remove cancer.

I do write from my own experience which was of having a slightly raised PSA reading and so, like everyone else, I have a bias.

Nutrition – check your diet. It can be helpful to find out what your pH reading is. An acidic body tends to harbour more disease, and there are people who say that cancer cells cannot live in an alkaline state. Most evidence says that slightly alkaline is the best ‘normal’ state. So, the argument goes, if you increase your alkalinity your immune system will naturally remove cancer cells.

Begin by eating a healthy diet, with little pre-prepared food and a good variety. Don't over-eat! There is growing evidence that eating too much than we need (and we all do) increases Insulin Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF1) which is involved in the splitting of cells rather than their repair. A high level of IGF1 means cells split and create new ones whereas a low amount means that cells repair themselves, which is a much better long-term strategy. Eating too much can also raise your blood sugar levels which may be at least partly responsible for high rates of diabetes these days. Fasting regularly can help to maintain a low IGF1. The proverbial jury is still out on it but it won't do any harm to try.

A simple and cheap way to increase alkalinity is to drink bicarbonate of soda in water, with added honey and lemon if you like.

Cut down on alcohol if you are a big drinker. Beer, particularly, can increase acidity and also encourage the growth of fungus such as candida.

Supplementation – most agricultural land today has been stripped of many trace minerals by intense farming practices and inorganic fertiliser containing limited trace minerals. There are books and scientific reports dating from the 1920s that report this so it is nothing new.

Thus almost none of our food contains sufficient of these important nutritional necessities. Thus, the argument goes, we need supplementation; all of us.

There are others who claim this is utter rubbish. Personally I think they are talking utter rubbish!

My choice, specifically for prostate health, is a combination tablet. There are studies which show Saw Palmetto to be helpful; there are studies which show the opposite. There are studies showing Beta-sitosterol to be helpful; there are studies showing the opposite. Possibly the weakness of all of these is that the scientific paradigm says you can test only one thing at a time, and maybe no one single thing works. Nature is like that. Every food contains multiple nutritional elements.

This quote is from www.nutrition2000.com “In his book Beating Prostate Cancer With Nutrition, PhD Patrick Quillin notes research which strongly shows that there are no silver bullets when it comes to fighting cancer of any type. Nutrients have a synergistic effect. This means that they work better in conjunction than they do alone.”

At the end of this article there is a supplement comparison that you might find useful.

Do not overlook the fact that you will probably need general supplementation as well in order to improve your overall health and to boost your immune system.

I am hearing some reports that a new supplement, ASEA, is having good results for some people. This has not been trialled specifically for prostate health or problems but I personally do know of several reports of positive results. I am trying it myself at the moment. It is the sort of product that works from the inside, raising the effectiveness of your own immune system so it is likely that it will have other health benefits as well. I can give you more information about it and get you some to try so contact me via the Contacts Page.

Story & Testimonial for ASEA – Robert Chamberlain, July 2012

(Note: Robert had some other health problems as well, which I have omitted from his story. All of these improved simultaneously with his taking ASEA.)

My prostate issue started when I was diagnosed with an elongated one – this was from the symptoms and a DRE, without a PSA test. I started getting infections … and I used waterfall d manose

I started to have to pee immediately otherwise I would have to wait five minutes for the flow to start and boy that brought the sweat out - very unpleasant. Then 10 minutes later I would want to empty out again what didn't come out first time. During the night I would have to go on the hour 6 times some nights and during a drive it was every 20 miles … and if I misjudged it was over the fence.

I came back to the UK from Australia last year and a stop over at Singapore I spent most of the time walking round wanting to pee and not being able to. On my return I mentioned it to one of my consultants who mentioned it to my Dr who mentioned it to the appropriate department who suggested they take a urine sample and some blood tests which were ok so that went nowhere and I gritted my teeth. A ‘walking embarrassment’, even without other problems.

I came back to the UK from Australia last year and a stop over at Singapore I spent most of the time walking round wanting to pee and not being able to.

Last November 18th (2011) after blood tests for CLL, I started taking ASEA.

My energy returned with mental clarity within a week. Over the next six weeks and half a dozen healing crises where my head felt it was going to explode, my immune system had reactivated. By the beginning of Feb (ie less than 2 months) I was sleeping through the night and going all the way to London with out needing to stop.

… it took me a while to realise that my general health was better … I can get through the night only getting up once and just a normal stop to stretch legs on way to London.

So, do I think ASEA is good ? You don't have to ask. I believe what it says on the bottle; and whether you see concrete proof or not initially, it is in there working, helping the body heal itself.

Non-Medical Interventions

The history of cancer is littered with the skeletons of people who have been curing their patients and who have been hounded to death by the medical fraternity. No one is allowed to say they can cure cancer. Even if they can. However there are many people in the world who are curing cancer nonetheless, and if you search on the internet and in books you can find all manner of therapies.

Two doctors currently working are:

  • In Texas USA, Dr Burzynski is working with anti-neoplastines and having success, mainly with ‘incurable’ brain tumours. (See resources later.)
  • In Italy, Dr Simoncini is having success, including with prostate cancer, using bicarbonate of soda injected into the tumour. (See resources later.)

In addition to these doctors and others there is a whole world of so-called alternative cures. Treat them with the same thought and scepticism you would treat anything else in life, such as an irreversible operation.

Reiki

I am a Reiki practitioner and master and so giving myself a daily treatment was part of my regime. This, of course, is not for everyone, but if you would like to talk with me about how you can learn to do this yourself please use the form on the contact page.

Both you and your partner (and parents and children in any combination) can learn Reiki so you can also swap treatments with each other.

 

If anyone reading this has new information to add then please leave a comment at the bottom or use the contact form on the Contacts page.

References and Resources

There are many references and resources to be found on the internet, including NHS and other medical sites and on anatomy/physiology sites. Read them all with an open mind, since everyone has their bias, especially anyone with wild claims, and not forgetting that wild claims are sometimes true.

  1. Prostate Action (formerly Prostate UK) has a helpful website, www.prostateaction.org.uk,
  2. the Graham Fulford Charitable Trust (a UK charity) offers talks and PSA tests and always welcomes donations. In Warwick they have a monthly meeting at the Nelson Club. The organisation does tend to emphasise cancer over BPH and infection. (That is what Graham himself had and how a close friend of his died). They now use a Mediwatch PSAscan device which gives the result in about 10 minutes so you do not have to wait the previous week or so.
    To get the dates for Warwick and other places, call Graham on 07831 156071 or
    e-mail on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  3. Dr Burzynski – you can read about his work and case and buy the film at www.BurzynskiMovie.com
    You can still watch it at
    http://www.naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=F5B32D25BDC2E1977584DF9A1DF9CC0D
  4. Dr Simoncini – his treatment is available from a clinic on the Isle of Wight. www.theshenclinic.com where there is also a guide showing you how you can test yourself for candida.
    www.cancerisafungus.com/ for his book and some other information
    There is this article by­ Dr Mercola at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/08/05/fungus-causing-cancer-a-novel-approach-to-the-most-common-form-of-death.aspx
    Some months ago Nexus Magazine (www.nexusmagazine.com) carried an article by him.
  5. Dr Marcel Hernandez has an interesting website but it does focus on cancer. Nontheless this page from his website has some useful guidance:
    http://www.naturallyhealthyprostate.com/prostate_cancer_questions_and_answers.html
  6. www.nutrition2000.com, a USA site, has much useful information.
  7. There is some evidence that pulsed electro-magnetic field (PEMF) devices may help in cancer management but no research specifically on prostate health that I can find. When I was on a course in Texas in December 2011, I did meet a doctor who said he treats all his patients with high PSA readings with PEMF and has 100% success. You can call me to discuss this.

 

If anyone finds any link not working then please leave a comment at the bottom or use the contact form on the Contacts page.

Supplement Comparison

I have done my best to be accurate and include all relevant information but there are almost certainly some errors. Things change, including price, ingredients and company information. Please let me know if you find any inaccuracies.

 

See notes

 

 

Product

Company (UK biased)

Amount of Tablets

Maintenance Daily Dose

Saw Palmetto

Vitamin E*

Selenium

Pygeum

Extract

Beta-sitosterol

Lycopene

He Shou Wu Root

Zinc

Ginseng

Pumpkin

seed

Vegetarian?

1

Pro-6

Forever Living

90

3

250mg

30iu

70mcg

100mg

50mg

10mg

 

 

 

 

V

2

Prostease

Stirling & Nature’s Range

60

2

200mg

10iu

 

20mg

20mg

40mg

20mg

10mg

50mg

25mg

V

3

Prostease Plus

Stirling & Nature’s Range

60

2

450mg

10iu

100mcg

20mg

 

40mg

40mg

20mg

60mg

25mg

V

4

Prostabeta

Prime Health

30

1

200mg

148mg

100mcg

30mg

600mg

60mg

20mg

80mg

60mg

25mg

 

5

Prostasolve

Natural Choice

30

1

200mg

100mg

100mcg

30mg

(3:1)

600mg

60mg

?mg

10mg

60mg

25mg

 

6

Prostate Support Formula

Stirling Health

60

2

370mg

20iu

200mcg

40mg

 

40mg

40mg

20mg

60mg

50mg

 

More information and Additional Ingredients:

  1. Forever Living is a MLM company so you need to find a distributor. However Pro-6 is not licensed in UK so, strictly speaking, is not available. Some distributors import it from other countries, and it is available in other European countries. I can give you a contact.
    Calcium Phosphate, microcrystalline cellulose, stearic acid, magnesium stearate, croscarmellose sodium, silicon dioxide
  2. Stirling Health also offers a PSA test kit - www.stirling-health.net. There is more data on the Nature’s Range website at http://www.naturesrange.com/Home/.
    Saw Palmetto: Standardised Berry Extract of 90% sterols ; which is up to 1000 times stronger mg for mg than basic dried Saw Palmetto Berry powder; Vitamins A (1100iu), C (50mg), B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12; Amino Acid Complex, Copper (1mg), Chromium (67mcg), Amino Acid Complex (L-Alanine, L-Lysine, L-Methionine, L-Glutamic Acid (10mg of each), Soy isoflavones (20mg), Grape seed extract (10mg)
  3. Saw Palmetto: Standardised Berry Extract of 90% sterols (as 2); HMRlignan™(40mg), Mixed plant sterols (50mg), Vitamin C (50mg), Essential amino acid complex (40mg), Mixed proanthocyanidins complex (Grape seed extract and pine bark extract) (25mg), Eleuthero root (25mg), Niacin (7mg), Vitamin B6 (5mg), Copper (1mg), Swedish flower pollen extract (cernitin 25mg)
  4. Prime Health website is www.primehealthdirect.com
    Saw Palmetto: Standardised Berry Extract of 90% sterols (as 2); Black Pepper extract (2mg), Quercitin (80mg), Soy isoflavones (80mg), Grape seed extract (15mg), Garlic (150mg), Copper (1mg), Chromium (67mg), Vitamins A (1100iu), B complex, C (50mg)
  5. Natural Choice was ruled against for its advert which was included as an insert with some magazines. That does not influence the value of their product – just some of the related claims they made. I could not find a website; based in Nottingham, telephone 0800 787 9802
    Saw Palmetto: Standardised Berry Extract of 90% sterols (as 2); Quercitin (80mg), Vitamins (A, B (B1-B12), C, D),Chromium (67mg), Copper (1mg), Garlic (150mg), Soy isoflavones (80mg), Grape seed extract (15mg), Bioperine (3mg)
  6. Saw Palmetto: Standardised Berry Extract of 90% sterols (as 2), Cernitin (25mg), plant sterols (100mg), Vitamin C (100mg), Amino Acid complex (80mg), Eleuthero root (50mg), Niacin (15mg), Vitamin B6 (10mg), Copper (2mg).

Some Notes about (probably) the most important ingredients (partly from various websites, partly from me – be aware there is still controversy from some quarters about natural products and herbs). Do your own research.

Saw Palmetto: has been recognized since 1905 by the US Pharmacopoeia as a remedy for prostate problems, and it is also approved by the German Commission E (??) as a treatment of BPH. Saw Palmetto acts directly on an enlarged prostate and works to reduce pain, throbbing and inflammation, enhancing the bladder’s capability to contract and thus expel urine. Inhibits testosterone conversion enzyme and blocks uptake of DHT, both of which are causes of prostate problems.

More than 20 clinical studies have reported that Saw Palmetto extract relieved all major symptoms of BPH. One clinical study by 37 prominent Scientists in Europe showed 91% of patients experienced significant relief in their symptoms, whilst research at the University of Rome found that 70% of BPH sufferers reduced their average frequency of urination by half, and 65% experienced an average reduction of 43% in residual urine.

Beta-sitosterol: stronger prostate support with Betasitosterols, scientifically proven to be a critical natural prostate nutrient and one of the most effective natural solutions for preventing and relieving prostate enlargement. Still a relative newcomer with more proving needed.

Zinc: The prostate needs 10 times more Zinc than any other organ in the body and Zinc is vital for its healthy functioning and is a key element in any treatment. Dr Denham Herman stated, “Some 90% of the population consume diets deficient in Zinc.” In several controlled studies Zinc has been shown to reverse Prostate enlargement. One trial on this essential mineral conducted at Chicago Cook County Hospital reported that all patients showed symptomatic improvements, and 75% had palpable shrinkage of the prostate. On the preventative side, eight prominent research scientists published studies which concurred that sufficient Zinc is a vital necessity for a healthy prostate gland.

Selenium: Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential to good health. Observational studies indicate that death from cancer, including prostate cancer, is lower among people with higher levels of selenium in their bloodstream. However, this does not prove or disprove its value as a preventive, and several studies have had mixed results. Several others have suggested a possible link between cancer and selenium deficiency.

Trace elements are disappearing from our food because of the use of chemical fertilisers with limited ranges of nutrients – the common NPK fertiliser. Thus one of the most important supplements (I think) is a combination of trace minerals.

Lycopene: Available from tomatoes (preferably cooked). There is a 45% lower risk of prostate disease when a supplement of 60mg Lycopene is taken daily; it is also an antioxidant. A four-year Harvard University study reported that in 50,000 men, those who ate 10 or more servings of tomatoes per week were 45% less likely to develop prostate cancer.

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