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Drilling for studies on ground water contamination at the site of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy would start in October after the rains subside, the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) Tuesday told the Supreme Court.

The institute plans to start the drilling work for collection of soil and water samples from within the abandoned Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal.

The IITR told the apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar that it had got permission from the custodian of plant for the collection of samples but it was not possible to start work due to the on-going monsoon.

The court was told that once samples were collected, the institute would take three months for their processing and analysis.

The IITR said the the soil and subsoil samples from the plant would first have to be air dried under natural environmental conditions in order to avoid any loss of volatile components.

The institute in a report to the apex court said that it had collected water samples from 25 sites from shallow hand pump and deep bore wells around the plant.

The report said that in 12 of the samples the level of nickel in 12 of water samples exceeded the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) guidelines but was below the WHO guidelines.

Lead levels were found to exceed the BIS guidelines in four of the samples. Cadmium content was found to be above the guidelines in one samples.

The report said that the presence of the organic toxicants in the water samples were well below the permissible limits prescribed by the regulatory agencies.

The apex court Aug 28 directed the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board to permit the IITR representatives to enter the Union Carbide premises for drilling and taking samples from within the factory premises.

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