ESPN looks at The Killing Fields of Bhopal

ESPN's award-winning news magazine "E:60" has tackled one of the most tragic and powerful stories I have seen in all my years covering sports.


On Tuesday at 7 p.m., "E:60" will air "The Children of Bhopal," (later this month on ESPN America in Europe)which looks at the lasting impact of an industrial disaster in India. The story dates to Dec. 3, 1984, when one of the worst industrial accidents in history occurred at the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, exposing thousands of people to toxic chemicals. Union Carbide India Limited now is owned by Dow Chemical Co. While death toll estimates vary, the untold story has been the lingering impact on the lives of the unwitting children who play cricket on the still-contaminated playgrounds.

For "The Children of Bhopal," the playgrounds they use to escape the squalor around them and to dream of a brighter future as professional cricket players have instead compounded their existing problems. I spoke to "E:60" correspondent Jeremy Schaap about his trip to India and the impact of what he learned.


Schaap on what he noticed most » It is stunning to see that virtually nothing has been done since this disaster happened back in 1984. The people of this region have been betrayed by their leaders, who have done nothing to attempt to have the people responsible for this disaster clean it up and make the area livable.


Schaap on the children » We talk to 15-year-old Sachin Kumar, who can't walk but still plays cricket in a wheelchair because he has lost both legs due to illnesses caused by his living conditions. He told us that "My dream is to become a cricketer. My house is made of mud, but I want a house of stone one day."


Schaap on why cricket is so important to the children » "The Children of Bhopal" is rooted in cricket -- it is their life. But they don't understand that the fields they play on are literally killing them.


Schaap on what he hopes viewers get from watching the story » President Obama will be visiting the area this week to bring worldwide attention to the problem. Also 27 members of Congress, led by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., feel the Dow Chemical Company should be held responsible for the environmental and health problems in Bhopal today. Our goal in this piece is to call attention to this issue. Kids just want to play cricket and have a normal life. We hope to gain support for these kids by making people aware that it was a manmade disaster caused by an American company. It will be up to the American people and hopefully the world community to decide what happens next.


Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter at


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