EXECUTIVE SUMMARY FOR THE BHOPAL TRAGEDY
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Bhopal is the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, the largest and one of the most economically depressed states in the nation. At 1970s, the public health infrastructure, sewage and waste system in Bhopal are still in very poor condition . Besides, mass casualty emergency response system also lacking in Bhopal.
Union Carbide Corporation is one of the largest chemical and polymer companies in the united state. In 1984, Union Carbide operated in 37 host country as well as in its home country, ranking 35th in size among United State . The history of the company in India goes back much further that, to the early 20th century ,when the subcontinent was still part of the British Empire.
In 1970s, the Indian government introduced the new policies to encourage foreign companies to invest in local industry. In partly to response to Indian government policies and incentives , the Union Carbide launched a plant for the manufacture of Seven ,a pesticide commonly use throughout Asia on five-acre plot of land in 1969 .Bhopal become the city for the plant due to its location, which is near to the center if India ,with good rail connection to all part of the country . Despite Indian law limiting foreign ownership of corporation to 40%,the United state parent company allowed to retain majority ownership(50.9 percentage ) of Union Carbide India ,Ltd (UCIL). In fact , the plant at first was approved only for formulation of pesticides from component chemical like MIC imported from the parent company , in small quantities. However ,advantage of growing market in India and pressure from other competitors led UCIL to finally opening a full –fledged MIC component with one facility in 1980.This was indirectly lend to more sophisticated and hazardous process .
In the 1980s ,a financial crisis hit Indian farmer and they began buying more cheaper pesticides than those Union Carbide could offer .Due to decreased demand ,the plan was manufacturing Sevin at one quarter of its production capacity .In 1984 , the plan is planned to closed and prepare to sale due to lose of money .However ,there were no buyer and the plan continued to operate with safety equipment and procedures far below the standard . The Union Carbide Bhopal plant ,producing and storing an extremely unstable compound like MIC , lacking the state of the art leak –detection equipment ,and surrounded by teeming slums ,was a disaster waiting to happen . THE CAUSES OF THE ACCIDENT
On the night of 2nd-3rd December 1984, a big tragedy happened in Bhopal. The 41 metric tons of MIC (Methyl Isocyanate) in one of the storage tanks (Tank 610) leaked from Union Carbide Corporation’s Pesticide Plant in Bhopal in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The release of the MIC by the relief-valve system is caused by the chemical reaction of MIC with the initiation of water which entered the tank. The exact reasons the water entered the Tank 610 had soon become the subject of the investigation of Union Carbide Corporation since that night.
According to the story, an MIC operator was told to wash a section of a sub header of the relief valve vent header ("RVVH") in the MIC manufacturing unit. The water supposedly backed up into the header and eventually found its way into the process vent header ("PVH") through a tubing connection near the tanks because of the failure of the operator to insert a slip-blind, which was the standard plant operation procedures that must be undergoes by every operator. It was supposed to have flowed into the MIC storage tank that had located 400 feet by pipeline from the initial point of entry. In fact, this was an easily understood explanation for the layman which didn’t require any basic knowledge about the plant operation. The theory was readily accepted by the public who believed that the incident is caused by improper operation by the plant workers.
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