- Brand name Sevin (Union Carbide)- Third most used insecticide in US- Not fatal to people- Does not cause cancer
The UCIL factory was built in 1969 to produce the pesticide Sevin (UCC's brand name for carbaryl) using methyl isocyanate (MIC) as an intermediate. A MIC production plant was added in 1979
The UCIL factory was built in 1969 to produce the pesticide Sevin (UCC's brand name for carbaryl) using methyl isocyanate (MIC) as an intermediate.A MIC production plant was added in 1979 Brand name Sevin (Union Carbide)- Third most used insecticide in US- Not fatal to people- Does not cause cancerAround 1 a.m. on Monday, the 3rd of December, 1984, In the city of Bhopal, Central India, a poisonous vapour burst from the tall stacks of the Union Carbide pesticide plant. This vapour was a highly toxic cloud of methyl isocyanate.
The gas scrubber therefore did not treat escaping gases with sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), which might have brought the concentration down to a safe level.The maximum pressure the scrubber could handle, provided it had been operating, was only a quarter of the pressure during the leak. The flare tower could only hold a quarter of the gas that leaked in 1984.[
Carcass –bodies remains
. One employee was fired after going on a 15-day hunger strike. 70% of the plant's employees were fined before the disaster for refusing to deviate from the proper safety regulations under pressure from Kurzman argues that "cuts...meant less stringent quality control and thus looser safety rules. By 1984, only six of the original twelve operators were still working with MIC and the number of supervisory personnel was also cut in half.
After the Bhopal Disaster, the company went out of business. They were bought by Dow Chemical in 1999
REPARATION FOR DISASTERIn 1927 the proposal to build the hydroelectric plant on the New River was brought up. This hydroelectric project was conceived to help boost West Virginia's economy. Construction began under the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation. Union Carbide then formed the New Kanahwa Power Company. This new undertaking included the building of several structures; two power stations, two dams, and two tunnels. The total investment totaled approximately $9,000,000.00. The Rinehart and Dennis Company of Charlottesville, VA was contracted to begin construction. Rinehart and Dennis worked under the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation engineers, thus giving U.C.C.C. tight control over the project. Workers came from all over the Southeast. The majority of these new employees were African-American. One procedure used to build the tunnel was called "mucking." This was the process by which the broken rock was removed from the tunnel. The removal of the broken rock aided the dispersal of dust that might have been contaminated with silica dust. This dust might have infected several hundred men. The rock was then carried out of the tunnel via "dinkeys"(or small locomotives).
Started in 1969 in bhopalPhosgene, Monomethlyamine, Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) and the pesticide Carbaryl, also known as Sevin.Taken over by DOW Chemicals in 2001.DOW refused Union Carbide’s Liabilities in Bhopal, India.Compensation of $470 million ($500 per dead).Twenty years of passiveness.Case was reviewed and put up in American Court.DOW Refused Union Carbide’s Liabilities in Bhopal, India.
Bhopal gas tragedy
Human RightsCase Study :Union Carbide
Bhopal Gas TragedyAmongst the worst Industrial Disasters of its time. • Occurrence: 3rd December 1984. • Place of occurrence: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. • Company: Union Carbide Corporation. • Chemical: Methyl Isocyanate (45 tons) • What happened: 45 tons of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas escaped from two underground storage tanks at a Union Carbide pesticide plant.
Government and People’s Support For Plant : The country needed pesticides to protect her agricultural production . MIC is used to produce pesticides that control insects which would in turn, help increase production of food as a part of India’s GREEN REVOLUTION. Initially, India imported the MIC from the United States. In an attempt to achieve industrial self-sufficiency, India invited Union Carbide to set up a plant in the state of Madhya Pradesh to produce methyl isocyanate. To the people of the city of Bhopal, Union Carbide was a highly respected , technically advanced Western company. This coupled with political power and scientific expertise worked together to change the people’s perception of what was dangerous and more importantly what was safe.
Background1970sIndian Government invites UCC to set up Sevin plant- Plant built in Bhopal at central location and transport infrastructure- Indian Government has 22% stake in UCIL (UCC’s India Subsidary)- Plant initially approved for formulation only (built in area zoned forlight industrial use)Late 1970s and early 1980sCompetition forces “backward integration”. MMIC manufactured atBhopal site.- Drought causes drop in market demand for Sevin – safety andmaintenance lax- 6 minor accidents involving MIC between 1981 and 1984- Plant conformed to much laxer standards than sister plant US
What is Methyl Isocyanate? Clear, colorless, sharp smelling liquid Highly flammable Extremely toxic Volatile reaction with water in about 10 minutes Union Carbide used MIC to produce a insecticide called Carbaryl. MIC reacts with 1-naphthol in a hydrolysis process to produce Carbaryl.
Effects on Human Health Respiratory Disorders – Irritation to the lungs, causing coughing and/or shortness of breathing. Higher exposure caused build up of fluids (pulmonary edema). Caused Asthama. Cancer Hazard – Caused mutation (genetic changes). It caused cancer. Reproductive Hazard – Association between exposure to Methyl Isocyanate and miscarriages. It may damage the growing fetus.May also affect fertility in men and women. Traces of many toxins were found in the Brest Milk of mothers and were inturn transmitted to the recepient babies. 40, 000 kg was released in Bhopal on 3rd December 1984
The Disaster (3rd Dec 1984) 6 safety systems failed!
Equipment and Safety Regulations The MIC tank alarms had not worked for four years.. There was only one manual back-up system, compared to a four-stage system used in the US. The flare tower and the vent gas scrubber had been out of service for five months before the disaster. To reduce energy costs, the refrigeration system was idle. The MIC was kept at 20 degrees Celsius, not the 4.5 degrees advised by the manual. The steam boiler, intended to clean the pipes, was out of action for unknown reasons.
Repercussions of the disaster? Among the 500,000 people exposed to the gas: ◦ 20,000 have died till date ◦ 120,000 continue to suffer (15-20 die each month) Out of every 3 children born after the Bhopal disaster, only 1 survived. 7000 animals killed and 7000 injured
Aftermath•Medical staff was unprepared for the thousands of casualties.•Doctors and hospitals were not informed of proper treatment methos forMIC gas inhalation. They were told to simply give cough medicine andeye drops to their patients.•The gases immediately caused visible damage to the trees. Within a fewdays, all the leaves fell off.•2,000 bloated animal carcass had to be disposed of.•"Operation Faith": On December 16, the tanks 611 and 619 wereemptied of the remaining MIC. This led to a second mass evacuationfrom Bhopal.•Complaints of a lack of information or misinformation were widespread.
AftermathImmediate•UCC tries to shift blame on UCIL, sabotage etc• UCC refuses to provide chemical composition of gas or suggest proper medicaltreatment• Multi-billion dollar lawsuit filed in US courts by American attorneys (Dec 7)1985•Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act – GOI set up as sole representative of Bhopalvictims• All cases transferred from US courts to Indian1989UCC accepts moral responsibility and settles out of court for $470 million (ofthe original $3 billion)• UCC share rises $2 (i.e. up 7%)
Lapses :By Government The Madhya Pradesh State government had not mandated any safety standards. Lax Government controls, poor training , no emergency preparation. No audits and Inspections. Union Carbide failed to implement its own safety rules. The Bhopal plant experienced six accidents between 1981 and 1984, at least three of which involved MIC or phosgene.
Lapses: By Union Carbide Improper design of chimneys (without consideration of weather conditions in all seasons) Improper design and maintenance of safety equipment. Not following safety regulations as that followed by UCC plants in USA. Inadequate emergency planning and community awareness. Lack of awareness of the potential impact of MIC on the community by the people operating the plant. Inadequate community planning, allowing a large population to live near a hazardous manufacturing plant.
Working Conditions Attempts to reduce expenses affected the factorys employees and their conditions. Promotions were halted, seriously affecting employee morale and driving some of the most skilled ... elsewhere". Workers were forced to use English manuals, even though only a few had a grasp of the language. No maintenance supervisor was placed on the night shift and instrument readings were taken every two hours, rather than the previous and required one-hour readings. Workers made complaints about the cuts through their union but were ignored by management.
Current Situation•UCC shrunk to 1/6th its size since the disaster• Still operates as subsidiary of Dow Chemicals• Believes that the Bhopal disaster was a result of sabotage (Arthur D.Little report)• UCIL Bhopal site not remediated• Plant still leaks toxic chemicals• 1999 analysis of groundwater shows- 20,000 times permissible amount of mercury- 50 times permissible amount of trichloroethane• 2002 tests show chlorinated organics, lead and mercury in breast milkof nursing mothers
QuestionMany people have heard about Bhopal andUnion carbide’s connection to that incident .Notmany people , however know of Hawk NestTunnel incident. What is your Impression ofunion carbide when you think about both eventstogether ?
Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster• Construction of the Hawks Nest Tunnel near Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, as part of a hydroelectric project. Involved injuries and deaths of more 700 workers . This project is considered to be one of the worst industrial disasters in American history.
Hawk Nest Tunnel incident The incident revolves around the contraction of silicosis while constructing a new hydroelectric power plant. Silicosis is a disease that infects the lungs and gradually causes the cells to digest themselves. The most common symptom exhibited by infected persons was shortness of breath. Silicosis was contracted through inhaling rock dust that contained silica dust. Blasting away at the rock in order to build a tunnel produced the dust.
UNION CARBIDES AMERICAN PLANT Dr. Paul Shrivastava, an Associate Professor of Business in New York University conducted studies that revealed that Bhopal was neither an isolated incident nor the first of its kind in the corporation. There had been many accidents of similar nature in UCCs American plants prior to the Bhopal accident. He found that 28 major MIC leaks had occurred in UCC’s West Virginia plant during the five years preceding the Bhopal incident, the last one occurring only a month before.
Remediation Process Bhopal continues to suffer the environmental contamination produced by the release of MIC Donations and medical/volunteer assistance has been provided Union Carbide accepted responsibility and agreed to a $470 million settlement
What compounded the tragedy was that the victims failed to get adequatecompensation and the generation that followed continued to suffer fromhealth complications.