DATE: 30 NOVEMBER 2009
The night of 3rd December marked an industrial disaster when more than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India that instantly led to the death of approximately 3,800 people and causing permanent injuries for thousands more. The company involved shamelessly tried to avoid its legal responsibility. Nonetheless, a sum of $470 million was paid as compensation, a considerably small amount in comparison to the impact from the consequences of this tragedy. The aftermath of the disaster indicated the need for international standards for environmental safety and preventive strategies to sustain from similar accidents.
India has experienced rapid industrialization since the disaster. Despite some positive changes to government policies and behavior in several industries, rapid and poorly regulated industrial growth still remains exposing India to a major threat. Degrading of environmental practices with adverse consequences to human health continues to occur throughout India.
The Bhopal disaster, also known as the Bhopal gas tragedy was an industrial disaster that took place at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh releasing tons of toxic chemicals and gases.
This report is carried out with the objective of obtaining sufficient knowledge of the entire tragedy that took place and providing a detailed substantive summary of the mishap. Firstly, objectives and the management structure of the Union Carbide are discussed in this report to gain an overview of the company involved and its practices. Subsequently, an observation is done with regards to the industrial processes and operations of the plant to understand the on goings of the plant. The critical area of this report summarizes the key risks and contributing factors that ultimately led to the accident which provides an insight of the flaws in the plant. The consequences of the aftermath are then identified to provide an overview of the negative impact resulting from the disaster followed by a brief discussion on the improvements that should be done in the management systems to prevent similar accidents from happening in the near future.
3. Objective and Structure of the Management
The Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), a chemical factory which formed its establishment in 1969 near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh in India and was owned by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and the Indian authorities. Pesticides such as carbaryl was produced in this plant and in 1979, a new addition was made whereby the methyl isocyanate (MIC) plant was introduced to the site. Prior to 1979, the methyl isocyanate was imported from its parent company in the United States and India was one of the three dozen countries whereby the parent company had affiliates and business interest. It was stated that the UCC had done extensive research on the chemical and had sufficient knowledge on handling the chemical. Methyl Isocyanate, one of the many intermediates used in pesticides is known to be a very hazardous chemical which weighs much lighter than water but twice the weight of air. In the event that the gas escapes to the atmosphere, it will remain close to ground and this highly sensitive chemical can react with many substances which could cause serious damage.
UCIL was proud to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1984 and was making sales of approximately $200 million annually whereby 14 plants were being operated and it was segregated into 5 operating divisions making it a diversified manufacturing concern. The shares were publicly traded on the Stock Exchange 24% of these shares were owned by government run insurance companies whilst 50.9% of the shares were owned by UCC as part of a corporate global business strategy. http://www.wikipedia.org/bhopaldisaster
Due to its centralized location in India which gave it a...