Bhopal Gas Tragedy

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  • Topic: Bhopal disaster, Union Carbide, Dow Chemical Company
  • Pages : 15 (4698 words )
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  • Published : November 10, 2010
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Torts Research Paper BHOPAL GAS DISASTER

BY: - Vinay Sharma (Section A)

My research paper is about the infamous Bhopal Gas tragedy that happened on December 3, 1984 in Union Carbide Pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. Everyone discusses mainly about Negligence and Strict Liability when it comes to Bhopal Gas Disaster. But I have decided to research about some other legal issues related to this tragedy which are a bit controversial. Basically my research is concerned about liabilities of Union Carbide Corp., Dow Chemical Company and Madhya Pradesh government all of these have a conflict among themselves about the responsibilities after the tragedy.

Firstly, I have mentioned about the 1989 settlement between the Indian Government and Union Carbide Company to compensate the victims of tragedy by the company. I have discussed in my research paper that does the settlement resolve all the liabilities of the company like contamination of ground water and the future damages to health and property from effects of this contamination. And I found that this agreement could not resolve all these liabilities as it just concentrated on paying the damages to the victims. Moreover I found that even the damages paid were not appropriate as it was proposed to pay about $ 3 billion US

dollars as damages but the actual damages paid was just $ 470 million US dollars. I think that as it was out of court settlement between Indian Government and Company, the consent of Bhopal people wasn‟t paid any importance and the company‟s interest was given first preference. Secondly, I have discussed about claim of Dow Chemical Company, which took over Union Carbide Company after the incident, as Madhya Pradesh government has taken over the factory site so it should be responsible for cleanup of the factory site. But in my view Dow‟s claim is not correct as both in India and US the principle of „polluters pays for cleanup‟ is followed and here the UCC/Dow chemical Company is the polluter. So it‟s their duty to take care of cleaning process after the tragedy so as to make the site useful for some other work. Moreover, according to the lease terms between Union Carbide India Ltd. (UCIL) and Indian government the UCIL was supposed to restore the land to its initial state which it failed to do and left land full of contamination. So as long as UCIL/Dow doesn‟t restore the land it cannot run away from its commitment to clean the factory premises.

Thirdly, I mentioned that is it correct to hold Dow Chemical Company for the wrongs done by the Union Carbide Company (UCC) as it just overtook the UCC. In my view DOW became 100% owner of UCC; it stepped into shoes of UCC and thus should be liable for all civil and criminal liabilities of UCC. Moreover, according to Indian and US mergers law a company which acquires another company is liable for everything which the latter has done.

Lastly, I have also concentrated on topic of serious negligence of UCC which caused this disaster which lead to numerous deaths and serious health problems in survivors. I have

discussed about different prospects and theories about leakage. I have mentioned about weak safety measures taken by the UCC authorities immediately after the incident.


It was on the night of 2-3 December 1984 that the most infamous industrial disaster happened in Bhopal in the plant of Union Carbide Corporation when large amount of water entered the tank 610 containing approximately 40 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC). The reaction between the water and MIC raised the temperature of the tank to more than 200 °C which forced immediate release of pressure from the tank as the tank was not designed to withstand upto this temperature. During the course large amount of toxic gases also escaped from the tank and polluted the air which led to the large scale deaths and respiratory problems among the people of Bhopal.

Theories of how the water entered the tank differ. At...
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