Shrouded in the night and tempered by the chaos of panic, they were blindly running for their lives—while each breath they gasped brought them closer to death. As clouds of gas filtered in through the cracks of their shanties, hundreds began to die in the worst industrial disaster in human history. The population of Bhopal is still reeling from that accident 31 years later.
Open in a separate window Aftermath Immediately after the disaster, UCC began attempts to dissociate itself from responsibility for the gas leak.
Its principal tactic was to shift culpability to UCIL, stating the plant was wholly built and operated by the Indian subsidiary. It also fabricated scenarios involving sabotage by previously unknown Sikh extremist groups and disgruntled employees but this theory was impugned by numerous independent sources [ 1 ].
The toxic plume had barely cleared when, on December 7, the first multi-billion dollar lawsuit was filed by an American attorney in a U. In Marchthe Indian government enacted the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act as a way of ensuring that claims arising from the accident would be dealt with speedily and equitably.
The Act made the government the sole representative of the victims in legal proceedings both within and outside India. Eventually all cases were taken out of the U. The figure was partly based on the disputed claim that only people died andsuffered permanent disabilities [ 9 ].
By the end of Octoberaccording to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department, compensation had been awarded topeople for injuries received and 15, survivors of those killed. At every turn, UCC has attempted to manipulate, obfuscate and withhold scientific data to the detriment of victims.
Even to this date, the company has not stated exactly what was in the toxic cloud that enveloped the city on that December night [ 8 ].
There was clear evidence that the storage tank temperature did reach this level in the disaster. The cherry-red color of blood and viscera of some victims were characteristic of acute cyanide poisoning [ 11 ]. Moreover, many responded well to administration of sodium thiosulfate, an effective therapy for cyanide poisoning but not MIC exposure [ 11 ].
UCC initially recommended use of sodium thiosulfate but withdrew the statement later prompting suggestions that it attempted to cover up evidence of HCN in the gas leak. As further insult, UCC discontinued operation at its Bhopal plant following the disaster but failed to clean up the industrial site completely.
The plant continues to leak several toxic chemicals and heavy metals that have found their way into local aquifers. Dangerously contaminated water has now been added to the legacy left by the company for the people of Bhopal [ 114 ].
Lessons learned The events in Bhopal revealed that expanding industrialization in developing countries without concurrent evolution in safety regulations could have catastrophic consequences [ 4 ].
The disaster demonstrated that seemingly local problems of industrial hazards and toxic contamination are often tied to global market dynamics. However the manner in which the project was executed suggests the existence of a double standard for multinational corporations operating in developing countries [ 1 ].
Enforceable uniform international operating regulations for hazardous industries would have provided a mechanism for significantly improved in safety in Bhopal. Even without enforcement, international standards could provide norms for measuring performance of individual companies engaged in hazardous activities such as the manufacture of pesticides and other toxic chemicals in India [ 15 ].
National governments and international agencies should focus on widely applicable techniques for corporate responsibility and accident prevention as much in the developing world context as in advanced industrial nations [ 16 ].
Specifically, prevention should include risk reduction in plant location and design and safety legislation [ 17 ]. Local governments clearly cannot allow industrial facilities to be situated within urban areas, regardless of the evolution of land use over time.
Industry and government need to bring proper financial support to local communities so they can provide medical and other necessary services to reduce morbidity, mortality and material loss in the case of industrial accidents.Thirty years ago, on the night of December 2, , an accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, released at least 30 tons of a highly toxic gas resulting in a death toll.
Hundreds of people have died from the effects of toxic gases which leaked from a chemical factory near the central Indian city of Bhopal. The accident happened in the early hours of this morning at the American-owned Union Carbide Pesticide Plant three miles ( km) from Bhopal.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy Information Print. In the early hours of December 3,, methylisocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from a plant owned, managed and operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in the central India city of Bhopal.
The Bhopal disaster killed between 15, Bhopal: History the site of the worst industrial accident in history, when about 45 tons of the dangerous gas methyl isocyanate escaped from an insecticide plant that was owned by the Indian subsidiary of the American firm Union Carbide Corporation.
The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident on the night of 2–3 December at the Union Carbide India Limited . Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) opened the Bhopal plant in , and hundreds, then thousands, of hopeful job seekers and their families flooded the area, setting up a .