IN order to shatter President Barack Obama’s howls of derision while wrapping himself in the Stars and Stripes and trampling on the Union Jack over BP and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, let us turn the calendar back to the Bhopal disaster in India, which ranks as “the world’s worst industrial catastrophe”.

The gas plant was a subsidiary of the US company Union Carbide and in December 1984 there was a leak of methyl iscoyanate gas and other substances.

This resulted in 3,787 deaths, although other estimates were as high as 15,000, within the first few weeks and 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases.

Some 26 years after the leak, 390 tons of toxic chemicals continue to leak and pollute the groundwater in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents.

Civil and criminal charges remain pending in the US District Court in Manhattan and Bhopal with an Indian arrest warrant outstanding against Warren Anderson, former chairman and chief executive officer of Union Carbide.

Seven former company employees were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence. The compensation offered to the victims is classed as derisory.

TE Jackson, Durham.