Industrial catastrophe

Industrial catastrophe


Industrial catastrophe are not just problem of third world countries these disaster can happened in developed or developing countries where toxins are being used and developed without fully knowing the harm and abuse caused by the use of these chemicals.

But developing countries like India are more vulnerable to these problems due to lack of training, education, infrastructure and communication that is required to maintain these technologies but these are more eager to set up plants so they encourage the foreign companies to invest in local industry by ignoring health and safety issues that many multinational companies have to engage in.

Developing countries attract investors by offering them competitive advantage on low cost labor, access to market and lower operator's wages on the cost of environmental and human risks. Bhopal tragedy was one of these examples.

In 1950's India was facing problem like failure of crops, attacks by insects and famines (Eckerman 2008)In 1960's and early 1970's India had aim of Green Revolution .Its main purpose was to increase crop production and become self sufficient in agriculture and it leaded to the more demand of pesticides. The city of Bhopal was chosen due to its central locations and transport infrastructure. This specific site was zoned for light industrial and commercial use not for hazardous use. In 1969, UCC(parent company) set up a beautiful plant (UCCL)in India the capital city of Madhya padres. This nion carbide India Ltd was 50% owed by Union Carbide Corporation and 49% by various Indian investors.Until 1979 Indian carbide subsidiary were use to of import Methyl Isocyanatefrom parent company. After 1979 they decided to make own MIC instead of relying on its import.Methyl Isocyanate is one of many intermediate chemical was being used in manufacturing of pesticide production instead of using less hazardous but more expensive material. It is very dangerous chemical. It is little lighter then water and twice heavier than air and remains very close to ground surface. The MIC in Bhopal was used mainly Sevin brand carbaryl insecticide and Temik brand aldicarb pesticides commonly used through out Asia.

1.2 : Description of System and Working Environment

Work Conditions:

Procedure Adapted in UCCL Plant for production of pesticide manufacturing was very dangerous to save the cost. In Bhopal plant Methylamine was reacted with phosgene to form MIC which was then reacted with 1-naphthol to form final product. As in the safer way companies in West Virginia were using g MIC free route and were using raw material in different order. Like in Bayer company phosgene was first reacted with naphthol to form chloroformate ester that was then reacted with methyl amine. though it was expensive but was safer procedure.

Work condition in plant was unsatisfactory due to cut down the expenses. Employee raised many complaints before regarding to the poor and unsafe working condition but all were ignored by owner and senior management.

  • Methyl isocynate was being used instead of less hazardous chemical but more expensive to cut down the manufacturing cost.
  • Methyl isocyanate was stored in large amount in big tanks instead of using many small tanks and manufactured according the requirement of product.
  • Plant was set up in dense populated area with out considering health and safety issues of surrounding and was maintained in very poor condition with out alarm system of emergency.
  • Untrained workers were handling plant and they were forced to speak English language and manuals as few of them could understand.
  • Plant was not being maintained properly and its many valves were not functioning for last few months.
  • Staff was also reduced to save money and there was not properly trained to face severe problems.

(1.1a) previous warnings

There had been many previous incidents and warnings

  • 1974 due to MIC plant, nearby well water was found contaminated And may cows died by drinking this water.
  • In 1978 there was large fire.
  • 1981-1984 many workers injured and died due to leakage of gas.
  • Sep 1984 safety audit of company UCC reported many shortcomings. But all these were being ignored and led to most serious disaster of history

2. Description of Top event Failure

During 2-3 December 1984 the gas was formed when water entered in the MIC storage tank no.610. The water caused a reaction due of this heat and pressure of the tank was built up very high. This then quickly transformed the chemical compound into lethal gas that was escaped into air. This reaction was speed up due to presence of iron from corroding non stainless steel pipelines of the UCCL plant.

The Disaster Time Line is shown below

Inside the plant

9.00 PM Water cleaning of pipes start.

10.00 PM Water enters 610. Reaction starts.

11.30 PM Gases coming out from the


00.30 AM The large siren sounds and was turned off.

00.50 AM The siren was heard within the plant area. The workers escape.


11.30 PM First sensations. Suffocation, cough, eyes, vomiting.

1.00 AM Police alerted. People escaped.

UC-director denied.

2.00 AM The first reached Hamidia hospital.

Half blind, gasping for air, frothing at the mouth, vomiting.

2.10 AM The alarm was heard.

4.00 AM The gases reduced.

6.00 AM The police's loudspeaker: everything is normal.

2a: Effects on System

Due to chemical reaction of water and Methyl isocyanat the pressure and temperature of the tank was increased. The temperature of the tank crossed the UCCL recommended limit level. The temperature reached at 400C .It was so intense that cracked the cement above eth tank and concrete shattered and gas started leaking. (Hazarika 67, 68).

Photographtakenshortlyaftertheaccident. Apiperackisshownontheleftand the partially buried storage tanks (three totals) for MIC are located mid photo right.

2b.surrounding Environment

By 11:30 pm the workers started experiencing minor eye and throat irritation. Two workers locate the source of the leak and they were directed to spray water on to the leak. After some interval reaction was out of control and toxic gases spread eight kilometer over the densely populated area. Thousand of people killed in their sleep nearly 40000. Most likely 8000 were died in first week. Next day thousand of dead bodies were found on streets and railway station.

Two thousand goats and buffalos were died. All these were collected and buried. 520,000 - 730,000 were exposed to the toxic air.

170,000 were treated at hospital and in temporary dispensaries. 100,000 - 200,000 were permanent injuries

Within the next few days the leaves went yellow and fell off. There were severe long term effects due to this disaster like.

  • Respiratory system
  • Cardiac failure secondary to lung
  • Immune system Neurological system Psychological effects
  • Genetics
  • General over morbidity
  • Eyes
  • Women's reproductive

Hundreds of thousands remain injured or effected nearly 400,000 to this day.

2b: Diagrams and Fault Tree

3. Failures and causes that leads to disaster

Most of the safety systems were out of function at the night of Dec 3, 1984.

The Bhopal disaster was the result of a combination of legal, technological, organizational, and human errors.

Government of India and UCCL both breach the human rights law.

It is predicted that workers washed the pipelines with water and they were not told to put slip blind water isolation plate by supervisor. Most parts of UCCL were not maintained properly over years

This reaction was accelerated due to contaminant and lack of safety measures and also absence of complete information and emergency procedures.

4 Safety plans and standard in plant were deteriorating and ignored for months

Here is list of defects In MIC unit at the time of disaster.

  • Gauges for measuring temperature and pressure in various parts of plant were unreliable.
  • The refrigeration unit to keep MIC at low temperature was shut off.
  • The gas scrubber designed to neutralize MIC in the case of escape had been shut off for maintenance.
  • The flare tower to burn of escaping gas from scrubber was also shut off.
  • The water curtain to neutralize any remains of gas was too short to reach the flare tower.
  • Lack of effective warning system, alarm of MIC contain tank were failed to indicate rise in temperature.
  • MIC containing tank was filled beyond the recommended limit
  • The tank no.619 that was supposed to be kept empty for back up to deal with emergency like this contained Already MIC in it.
  • Valves of pipes were also leaking or loose due to lack of maintenance.
  • inadequate community planning, allowing a large population to live near a hazardous manufacturing plant.

Many theories have been predicted and two of them are being most intensively examined.

Water wash theory and sabotage theory.

The main responsibility was Indian Government and UCCL Corporation. Indian Government policies to protect their people lives were unsatisfactory. Government of India gave permission to set up hazardous chemical plant near densely populated are. The UCCL management decision to neglect the maintenance of plant to save operating expenses, inadequate emergency planning and community awareness, lack of awareness of MIC impact on community, and lack of training of UCCL operating plant, lack of communication of officials and staff before and during the incident. All factors lead to the cause of disaster.


Fire in Sandoz-factory Basel

Seveso disaster in Italy occurred 8 years before the Bhopal1976.

Chernobyl in Soviet Union 1986 and Veal, Ecfurban ,Basmex case are examples of the disaster took place.

Recommendation made for reoccurring whether these are implemented or not

5. Recommendations

International law doesn't play any role in Bhopal scenario.

After disaster Government of India passed Bhopal gas leak disaster Act 1985.The purpose was to give power to central government to represent the claimant at appropriate forum and make compensation to the claimants .Under this act government formulated Bhopal gas disaster scheme for the registration, process and compensation of Bhopal disaster victim few steps were taken by government of India for reoccurring such kind of accidents Government

encouraged private industry in investigating pollution control by announcing

Tax concession, depreciation and investment allowances.

  • After Bhopal a central government announced twenty types of polluting industries would need environmental clearance certificates.
  • Central government also set up committees for the problem created by the plants handling hazardous materials
  • Industrial laws have been made for chemical industries.
  • “government and industry must set higher standards for pesticides testing and use” (Hazarika 1986 p 217)
  • Local administration must introduce zone law and should not let large number of people to live toxic industrial units.
  • organic farming like using cow dung and other manures should be used instead of toxic pesticides in soil and in food.
  • all multinational companies must develop emergency evacuation and disaster preparation plans with the assistance of local authorities.

Indian Government did not take any serious action on this tragedy till to date. All the causes are left with union carbide findings how this incident happened, As company is stating its own sabotage theory but government of India is not willing to peruse to drag Indian worker in court .This disaster gave rise to the world's largest lawsuit that was continues up to seven years the final settlement was $470 million for the compensation of victims.Govement should not give permission to set up hazardous chemical plant in such populated area. Government had been informed previously about the plant poor maintenance but was reluctant to invest money on air pollution control and risk management issue due to fear of economic pressure.

Very few initiatives are taken by government of Indian to rehabilitation of the victims. After paying small amount to the victims central Government washed their hands for taking responsibility of poor victims. Government of Indian should fulfil its responsibility.

Former Plant operator T. R. Chauhan with bags of chemicals left behind in the background.

In some areas, where the water is extremely polluted, the GoMP providesdrinking water in tanks

6. Management issues raised

Union carbide had double satndard for the union carbide palnt in india and in west virginai. In india most of work was done manually insated of computerzied that was in west virginia. the capacity of satorage tank,flare tower and gas Scrubber was greater in west Vrginia plant instead in Bhopla.

The decision to Manufacturing of the pesticide by MIC without equipmenting the plant to deal with accident was also dangerous .The UCCL failed to set up any plan of emegency or system to warn the local communities about accident or any leakage.

This disaster gave rise to the world's largest lawsuit that was continues up to seven years the final settlement was $470 million for the compensation of victims

The chairmain and CEO of Union Carbide Anderson was arrest during his vist in India on 7 December1984 ,Later ohe was realeased as it is controvesory that his visit was on condition that Governmet will not arrest him .Since then Anderson has refused to visit india again.

Union Ccarbide poor maintenance causd many accident before th Bhopla but managemnt did not take those serious.All the local workers were working in plant and they were not familiar about the complex system of plant.Workers training and eduaction was aslo an issue that management did not considered in Bhopla.

Please be aware that the free essay that you were just reading was not written by us. This essay, and all of the others available to view on the website, were provided to us by students in exchange for services that we offer. This relationship helps our students to get an even better deal while also contributing to the biggest free essay resource in the UK!