Bhopal Gas Tragedy
- Brand name Sevin (Union Carbide) - Third most used insecticide in US - Not fatal to people Carbaryl - Does not cause cancer
TLV = 0.02 ppm Methyl isocyanate
Methyl Isocyanate (MIC)
Clear, colourless, b.p. 39oC, odour threshold 2.1 ppm Effects of 0.4 ppm - Coughing - Chest pain - Breathing pain (dyspnea) - Asthma - Eye irritation - Nose, throat, skin damage Effects of 21 ppm - Lung oedema - Emphysema (damage of lung tissue) - hemorrhaging - bronchial pneumonia - death If you smell it, there is too much!
40,000 kg were released in Bhopal on 3rd December 1984.
1970s - Indian Government invites UCC to set up Sevin plant - Plant built in Bhopal to central location and transport infrastructure - Indian Government has 22% stake in UCIL (UCC’s India Subsidary) - Plant initially approved for forumulation only (built in area zoned for light industrial use) Late 1970s and early 1980s - Competition forces “backward integration”. MIC manufactured at Bhopal site. - 10 times the daily use amount of MIC stored in plant - Drought causes drop in market demand for Sevin – safety and maintenance lax - 6 minor accidents involving MIC between 1981 and 1984 - Plant conformed to much laxer standards than sister plant US
The Disaster (3rd Dec 1984)
6 safety systems failed!
3800 people killed within days 20,000 died slowly 120,000 still suffering (15-20 die each month) 1000 animals killed and 7000 injured http://www.bhopal.org/whathappened.html
Immediate – one view
• UCC tries to shift blame on UCIL, sabotage etc • UCC refuses to provide chemical composition of gas or suggest proper medical treatment • 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 Bhopal victims • All cases transferred from US courts to Indian 1989
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