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Union carbide fights for its life


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Presentation on Case Study of "Union Carbide fights for its life"

Presentation on Case Study of "Union Carbide fights for its life"

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  • 1. Prepared by: Rohit Dobaria
  • 2. An Overview
    • Early hours of Dec. 3, 1984, Bhopal.
    • Poisonous Methyl isocyanate (40 – 43 tonnes)
    • leaked from Union Carbide plant.
    • More than 2000 people died & thousands injured.
    • (Exact data still not available. Approx. 1 person
    • dies every day because of effects of the gas.)
  • 3.
    • The company manufactured “Servin” ( Carbaryl)
    • It was America’s 37 th largest industrial corporation & 3 rd largest chemical maker.
    • It had always been a stable company.
    • High safety records, Growth and Financial stability.
    • But within a day of tragedy the company’s stock prices dropped by 27%.
  • 4.
    • No precise conclusion
    • Possibly three causes –
    • Equipment failure
    • Human error
    • Sabotage
    • However one lawsuit against the Company claims the corporation for its negligence in designing the plant.
    • The technology used at Bhopal plant was inferior to the technology used in America & Europe.
    Causes Of Disaster
  • 5.
    • Some evidence show that Union Carbide was aware of some of the deficiencies at the Bhopal plant.
    • Two years prior to the tragedy, the company inspectors from U.S. found 10 major deficiencies.
    • Next year the Bhopal plant confirmed that all the problems had been solved.
    • The U.S. inspectors did not return to India to confirm this.
  • 6.
    • The Indian government openly blamed Union Carbide for the tragedy.
    • There was a speculation that the disgruntled managers at the Bhopal plant might have sabotaged the system.
    • The gauges supposed to warn – not functioninng properly at that time.
  • 7.
    • The plant was permanently closed.
    • Some compensation awarded to the victims and their families.
  • 8.
    • Considering what you have learned, what do you think happened at Bhopal?
    Question : 1
  • 9.
    • Approx. 43 tones of MIC was filled in tank no. 610C .
    • The maximum allowable limit for the tank was 50%, but the tank was filled up to 87% (43 tones).
    • Immediate cause of the pressure build up was the exotherimic reaction caused by contamination of water into tank 610C.
    • Due to pressure build up the safety valve was opened and gas escaped into the atmosphere.
  • 10.
    • The refrigeration system was designed to cool the liquid at the temperature of zero degree celcius.
    • But the refrigeration system was shut down and water was poured around the tank to cool it. So the temperature was not maintained at zero degree celcius.
    • On the day of disaster the water leaked into the tank causing build-up of pressure and temperature.
    • Pouring was continued.
    • To prevent the tank from exploding the safety valve opened and released the gas.
  • 11.
    • Do you think that Union Carbide did not exhibit social responsibility by designing the plant less than fail safe, if at all ?
    Question : 2
  • 12.
    • The technology used at Bhopal plant was inferior.
    • The maintenance and safety standards were lower compared to the U.S.& Europe plants.
    • The company’s motive was to earn more profits.
    • Almost none of the safety systems at the time of disaster were functioning.
    • The Vent gas scrubber was designed to take feed rate of 190 pounds per hour at 35 degree C at the pressure of 15 psig.But at the time of disaster MIC poured through at the rate of 40,000 pounds per hour at 200 degree C and 180 psig.
    • The vent gas scrubber contained inadequate quantity of caustic soda.
  • 13.
    • Water curtain/spray could rise upto 13 meters while the gas evolved at the height of 33 meters.
    • The mandatory refrigeration for MIC unit was shut down for three months to save money.
    • Other plants in U.S. & Europe had a safety system automatically control with manual back-up devices.But they were manual at Bhopal.
    • There were not any emergency planning measures and local authority knew nothing about the dangers of MIC.
    • Union Carbide was aware of all these deficiencies but in order to cut the cost no measures were taken to improve the condition of the plant .
  • 14.
    • This has led to loss of thousands of lives.
    • Also the company paid only $ 470 million as an amount for compensation against $ 3000 million demanded by the government of India.
    • From this amount each victim received $ 500 (only seven cents per day). This was a very little amount which equals to the amount needed for one cup of tea and a piece of bread.
    • So in true sense the Union Carbide didn’t exhibit corporate social responsibility.
  • 15.
    • Would you hold Union Carbide ethically responsible for the death of thousands of Indians? If so, explain.
    Question : 3
  • 16.
    • Yes, the Union Carbide was ethically responsible for the death of thousands of people.
    • The safety system used in the plant was sub-standard. Also the parts used were of poor quality and older technology.
    • A series of incidences of gas leakage occurred in previous years. They are :
    • Dec 1981- A worker was killed while handling phosgene.
    • Feb 1982- 25 workers were hospitalized following leakage in pipes carrying chlorine, MIC and HCl.
    • Dec 1982- Massive leak of chlorine gas -16 affected.
    • 1983-84- The events of leakage continued.
  • 17.
    • In spite of this many number of incidences the company did not took any step to rectify the situation.
    • Also, the plant did not give vital information about the storage and handling of hazardous & dangerous material.
    • Effect of MIC on humans and the antidote treatment was not known to the medical fraternity and such knowledge if available was not disseminated to the emergency services.
    • There was an absence of proper warning system in the plant.
    • Economy measures, overriding safety concerns.
  • 18.
    • What, in your judgement is the possibility that either Indian management was less vigilant abouut their safety responsibilities or some one was responsible for committing sabotage?
    Question : 4
  • 19.
    • A series of incidences of gas leakage took place during the period of 1981-1984 in the plant.
    • Issue of danger to Bhopal from a pesticide plant was raised in the Legislative Assembly of the state.
    • An accident investigation committee examined the issue and concluded that the plant was fail safe.
    • The Labour Minister stated the assembly,”A sum of Rs.25 crore has been invested in the plant. The plant in not a small stone which can be shifted elsewhere. There is no danger to Bhopal nor will there ever be.”
    • This sort of negligence was responsible for the tragedy. So government was responsible.
  • 20.
    • A research conducted by the U.S. officers regarding the sabotage had shown that there was no such involvement of a worker.
    • The U.S. officials left India without submitting the report to government of India.
  • 21. Thank You