Assignment of Business Ethics & Corporate Governance
BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY
December 3, 2009, marked the 25th anniversary of the world's worst ever industrial disaster - the gas leak that occurred at Union Carbide India Ltd's (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh, India). The tragedy that instantly killed more than 3,000 people and left thousands injured and affected for life, occurred when water entered Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) storage tank No. 610 of the plant on December 3, 1984. MIC is one of the deadliest gases produced in the chemical industry and is known to react violently when it comes into contact with water or metal dust. Though the plant was closed down soon, the after-effects of the accident left an estimated 25,000 people dead and around 600,000 people affected due to gas-related disorders. | |
What compounded the tragedy was that the victims failed to get adequate compensation and the generation that followed continued to suffer from health complications. However, the multinational corporation responsible for the disaster still continued to evade responsibility.
The US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the parent company of UCIL, stuck to its outrageous argument that the incident had occurred due to an act of sabotage by a disgruntled worker. It, however, failed to name the worker. It downplayed the health effects of MIC and discredited the victims and activists fighting for justice. It tried to evade responsibility by shifting the blame on to the Indian subsidiary and the Indian government. UCC claimed that it did not have any say in the operations of its subsidiary. The company engaged in lengthy litigation which led to a delay in compensation being provided to the victims. Even the people who obtained a paltry amount years later, as UCC agreed to pay US$ 470 million, had to continue residing in the surroundings of the plant that had not been cleaned up, exposed to the toxic