Photographs by Alex Masi. Foreword by Indra Sinh.
FotoEvidence, 2012. 80 pp., 56 color illustrations, 8x12".
Bhopal Second Disaster is a fruit of the FotoEvidence Book Award. The annual Book Award is given to a photographer whose work demonstrates courage and commitment in documenting social injustice and violations of human rights. FotoEvidence is a platform for social documentary photographers whose work focuses on human rights and social justice. The award is made possible through the generosity of individual supporters of FotoEvidence.
Bhopal Second Disaster by Alex Masi provides a portrait of people living in the shadow of one of the worst industrial accidents ever to occur: a gas leak at a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India in 1984.
Though the official death toll following the accident was reported as approximately 4,000 people with more than 200,000 affected by the leak. Independent research places the number of dead somewhere over 20,000. One study found 17,000 shrouds for burying the dead sold in the area in the two weeks following the accident. Another study interviewed a truck driver who reported spending a week following the accident transporting truckloads of unattended bodies to a mass burial site. The true number of dead and injured will never be known but the consequences for the living are still being felt.
Almost 30 years later, approximately 30,000 people live in settlements in the area surrounding the abandoned plant and find themselves and their children suffering from severe neurological disorders produced by years of chemical contamination of the areas soil and water.
Bhopal Second Disaster offers a disturbing and tender portrait of these communities, the terrible toll the pollution is taking on them and their struggle for justice and assistance. It reminds the viewer of the long term consequences of industrial pollution and the difficulty that victims of pollution face when seeking justice.
Read Melanie McWhorter’s photo-eye Blog post on Bhopal here.