The Bhopal Incident

Topics: Bhopal disaster, Pressure, Natural gas Pages: 5 (844 words) Published: April 17, 2014

The Bhopal Incident

Professor: Ralph Blessing

The Bhopal Incident
On December 3, 1984 the Union Carbide Pesticide plant leaked over forty tons of toxic gases into Bhopal India. The enormous poison gas leak in Bhopal was one of the most severe industrial incidents in history. The Union Carbide India, pesticide plant, was developed to help local farmers increase production. India was a part of “green revolution”; pesticides served approximately ten percent of India’s food crop, and were feeding over seventy million people yearly when the Bhopal incident occurred (Fischer, 1996). The tragedy on December 3, 1984 began when tank 610 containing over forty tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) became contaminated with water, causing a violent reaction that increased the gas pressure, resulting in a leak. Around 11 pm: the operator in the control room noticed pressure gauge connected to tank 610 had risen from 2 psi to 10 psi. An operator also noticed a MIC leak near the scrubber but was unable to locate its origin (Fischer, 1996). The pressure in the MIC tank had increased 55 psi. When the tank became overheated the operators tried to reduce the temperature with water not realizing that they made the situation worse. The operators also tried to use the vent gas scrubber, which was considered the main line of defense, but it also failed. At approximately 12 a.m., the relief valve of the tank gave away and large quantities of MIC gas leaked into the atmosphere (Fischer, 1996). An estimated number between fifteen-hundred and forty-five hundred individuals died immediately and thousands more were injured from the Bhopal incident. The death toll estimates varies vastly, proximate deaths from gas exposure go beyond seven thousand, following the night of the disaster (Fischer, 1996). Although no one really knows how the catastrophe occurred, there are several theories as to what took place on December 3, 1984. The Union Carbide company suggests that a saboteur within the company purposely placed water into the tank to intentionally cause harm, because the plant conditions have always been up to standard. Another theory from the Central Bureau of Investigations is an operator’s negligence for not placing a slip bind to prevent contamination before pipes were flushed with water, causing the fatal pressurization of tank containing MIC (Fischer, 1996).

Safety and Health Impacts

One of the safety impacts of the tragedy was the distance of sprayer for water neutralization of escaping gas was ineffective. Management was aware of past deficiencies and ignored them. There were also several safety equipment failures such as the stack scrubber, and pipe blockage that were intended to drain pressurized water and the operator doesn’t follow procedures and fails to use slip blind. At least three thousand individuals died from immediate exposure to the gas, while decades later following the night of the disaster, approximately twenty-five thousand additional individuals have died from the damage the gas caused and another twenty-five thousand individuals die annually from the effects of the gas.

Legal Aspects

After the tragic Bhopal incident the Indian government enacted the Bhopal Act as a way of making certain that the claims from the accident would be handled quickly and rightfully. The Bhopal Act appointed the government as the sole representative of the victims in legal proceedings both within and outside India (Fischer, 1996). Ultimately, the cases were removed from the U.S. legal system under the ruling of the American judge and placed solely under Indian authority much to the disadvantage of the injured individuals involved. In a settlement resolved by the Indian Supreme Court, UCC acknowledged moral accountability and consented to remit four-hundred and seventy million to the Indian government to be disbursed to the claimants as a final judgment (Fischer, 1996)....
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