The Bhopal Disaster which is commonly referred toas Bhopal Gas Tragedy was a gas leak incident inIndia, considered one of the world’s worstindustrial catastrophes.It occurred on the night of December2-3,1984 at the Union Carbide IndiaLimited, a pesticide plant in Bhopal ,Madhya Pradesh , India.A leak of methyl isocyanate gas and otherchemicals from the plant resulted in the exposureof hundreds and thousands of people.
UCIL was the Indian subsidiaryof Union Carbide Corporation (UCC),with Indian Government controlledbanks and the Indian public holding a49.1 percent stake.It started in 1969 at the northern stateof India.Phosgene, Monomethlyamine, MethylIsocyanate (MIC) and the pesticideCarbaryl, also known as Sevin weremanufactured here.
UCC produced carbaryl using MIC asan intermediate.After the Bhopal plant was built,other manufacturers including Bayerproduced carbaryl without MIC,though at a greater manufacturingcost.However, Bayer also uses the UCCprocess at the chemical plant onceowned by UCC at Institute, WestVirginia, USA and many other states.
Methylamine (1) reacts with phosgene (2) producing methyl isocyanate (3)which reacts with 1-naphthol (4) to yield carbaryl (5)
According to one theory:Water leaked into tank from valves while workerswere cleaning the clogged pipe which is 400 feetabove it.According to theory of UCC:Water was directly introduced into tankintentionally by a worker via a missing pressuregauge .It resulted in exothermic reaction and finally to aexplosion.
Use of a more dangerous pesticide manufacturing method for decreasing generation cost. Plant location close to a densely populated area. Plant management deficiencies like : Lack of skilled operators, Reduction of safety management. Insufficient maintenance andinadequate emergency action plans.
UCIL didn’t maintained safety rules.......• A pipe leaked? Dont replace it.• MIC workers needed more training. They could do with less.• The MIC tank alarms had not worked for four years.• 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.• Carbon steel valves were used at the factory, even though they corrode when exposed to acid.• According to the operators the MIC tank pressure gauge had been malfunctioning for roughly a week• UCC admitted in their own investigation report that most of the safety systems were not functioning on the night of December 3, 1984.
• It is estimated that total deaths are about 20,000 upto 20 years after disaster.• It is estimated 1,00,000 to 2,00,000 people have permanent injuries.• Reported symptoms are eye problems , respiratory difficulties, immune and neurological disorders, cardiac failure secondary to lung injury, birth defects among children born to affected women. Dead bodies of victims of that massacre
Medical staff were unprepared for the thousandsof casualties.Doctors and hospitals were not informed ofproper treatment methods for MIC gas inhalation.They were told to simply give cough medicine andeye drops to their patients.The gases immediately caused visible damage tothe trees. Within a few days, all the leaves fell off.2,000 bloated animal carcasses had to bedisposed of."Operation Faith": On December 16, the tanks 611and 619 were emptied of the remaining MIC. Thisled to a second mass evacuation from Bhopal.
Immediate relief was decided two days after the tragedy.Relief measures commenced in 1985 when food wasdistributed for a short period and ration cards weredistributed.Widow pension of the rate of Rs 200/per month (later Rs750) was provided.One-time ex-gratia payment of Rs 1,500 to families withmonthly income Rs 500 or less was decided.2,486 flats in two- and four-story buildings wereconstructed in the "Widows colony" outside Bhopal. Thewater did not reach the upper floors. It was not possible tokeep cattle. Infrastructure like buses, schools, etc. weremissing for at least a decade.
Indian government closed plant to outsiders and failed in makingthe data public.The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) wereforbidden to publish their data on health effects until after 1994The Indian Government and UCC deny permanent injuries werecaused by MICUCIL paid a token of $470 million even though asked a totalcompensation of $3.3billion.But the government said nothingThe government sent safely Mr. Anderson the CEO of UCIL at thetime of massacre, to USCivil and criminal cases are still pending in United States DistrictCourt, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India,involving UCC, UCIL employees, and Warren Anderson