Amongst the worst Industrial Disasters of its time.
Occurrence: 3rd December 1984.
Place of occurrence: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Company: Union Carbide Corporation.
Chemical: Methyl Isocyanate (27 tons)
The union carbide corporation(UCC)
was established in 1969 in Bhopal.
Union Carbide India Ltd. was the
Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide
Warren Anderson was the UCC CEO
at the time of the disaster.
It was occurred at the night of 2nd Dec 1984.
The Bhopal disaster also refers to as
the Bhopal gas tragedy was a gas
leak incident in India.
It is the world largest industrial disaster.
It occurs on the night of 2nd Dec 1984.
Over 5 lakh people were exposed
to METHYLE ISOCYNATE GAS and
The official immediate death toll was
The government of Madhya Pradesh
confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths
related to the gas release.
100,000 persons or more have got
Effects of Methyle Isocynate Gas on
Respiratory Disorders – Irritation to the lungs, causing
coughing and shortness of breathing. Higher exposure
caused build up of fluids (pulmonary edema). Caused
Cancer Hazard – Caused mutation (genetic changes). It
Reproductive Hazard – Association between exposure to
Methyl Isocyanate and miscarriages. It may damage the
growing fetus. May also affect fertility in men and women.
Effects of Methyle Isocynate Gas on
Due to the Toxic gas after the disaster within a few days
tree in the vicinity became barren and 2000 bloated
animal carcasses had to be disposed off.
The water air and food become polluted in that area.
Major problem of the Case
Who is responsible for the disaster & why ?
Government of India.
Management team of UCIL.
Government of India.
GoI seems irresponsible when it
granted a license to setup manufacturing
and storing unit of deadly poisonous
chemical in residential area Bhopal where
nearly 120,000 people resided.
In December, 1982 Labor minister, T.S. Viyogi said “there is no
danger to Bhopal, nor will there ever be” even though UCC
officials warned about the upcoming disaster after a field
GoI was protecting the company neglecting all the complaints
and warnings saying a sum of Rs. 250 million had been invested
in that unit, which being a large one can’t be shifted elsewhere.
Union Carbide Corporation.
UCIL was UCC’s subsidiary company but it pulled out its interest
after a huge loss.
It didn’t strongly enforce the rules and policies so that UCIL
management team showed poor management and regulation of
Although standards were set for security and maintenance, it
didn’t impose on UCIL.
It did not have any kind of emergency plans in place for unseen
disaster at UCIL contrary to what was said in UCC’s document
so the hospital staff had no idea of what had happened or what
to do with MIC related disorders.
Management Team of UCIL.
Managing director Jagannath Mukund only focused on cost
cutting, cutting off the jobs of more than 200 skilled and
experienced workers. By 1983 two third of skilled engineer
working from the beginning had already left the company.
Shut down of principal safety systems shows the unethical and
irresponsible behavior of M.D. Mukund.
o MIC in the tank was filled to 87% of its capacity while maximum
permissible limit was 50% .
o Refrigeration and cooling systems were shut down but
prescribed storage temperature was 00C .
o Vital gauges and indicators were defective in MIC tanks.
o Flare tower meant to burn off MIC emissions and scrubber
cylinder meant to decontaminate leaks were deactivated.
o Factory officials reveal about the disaster only after an hour of
the leakage although they knew it one hour before
Data related disaster
The disaster was already happening before 1984.
In 1981 a worker was splashed with Phosgene in a panic he removed his mask
inhaling a large amount of Phosgene gas which resulted in his death
within 72 hrs.
In jan1982 a Phosgene leak exposed 24 workers all of whom were admitted to
After one month a MIC leak effected 18 workers.
Storing MIC in large tank and filling beyond recommended level.
Tank 610 contain 42 ton of MIC which was much more than what safety rule
Reason for Citation
Poor maintenance and inadequate emergency.
Use of more dangerous pesticides manufacturing methods.
Plant location closed to densely populated area.
Lack of experienced operator.
Communication problem(worker were forced to use English
manual even though only a few had a grasp of the language).
70% of the plants employee was fined before the disaster for
refusing to deviate from their proper safety regulations under
pressure from the management.
The MIC tank alarm had not been working for 4 yrs and their
was only 1 manual backup.
The reduced energy cost the refrigeration system was idle, the
MIC was kept at 20 degree Celsius not the 4.5 degree advised
by the manual.
Source:-"Bhopal trial: Eight convicted over India gas disaster".BBC
Compensation and Legal Aspects
Compensation of $470 million ($500 per dead).
Twenty years of passiveness.
Case was reviewed and put up in American Court.
DOW Refused Union Carbide’s Liabilities in Bhopal, India.
As a result of the gas leak, seventy-five percent of Bhopal
citizens are unable to work for more than a few hours at a
Only 6.8% of the population can work for any longer than that.
Unemployment and its effect on Bhopal's economy
"supply vs. demand" the demand is very low, driving the
suppliers out of business, therefore lowering the supply
Many people have become money lenders in the city, and
some charge up to 20% interest.
about 5% of the population has gained employment by the
Government of India
GoI should not have permitted to build company at Bhopal. Instead
they should have suggested any other non-residential area.
It should have enforced strong policies regarding company
operations and its security system.
GoI should have used the power to shut down the company after
security issues were raised because safety of its people comes
Union Carbide Corporation
It should have regulated UCIL’s operation even cost cutting
strategy was encouraged.
It should have enforced UCIL management to maintain standard
It shouldn’t have neglected UCIL.
Management team of UCIL
It shouldn’t have cut off the jobs of skilled and experienced
engineers and other workers.
It should have maintained strong security system.
It should have revealed preventive measures and reactant
methodologies for MIC poisoning.
If officials should have warned others right after they foresaw the
disaster, the death toll would have decreased.
Local governments clearly cannot allow industrial facilities to be
situated within urban areas, regardless of the evolution of land use
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.
Existing public health infrastructure needs to be taken into account
when hazardous industries choose sites for manufacturing plants.
Legislation and regulation needs to evolve in active consultation
with all stakeholders laying emphasis on emerging requirements,
and increasing standards with appropriate emphasis on actual
functioning of safety mechanisms and inculcation of an active
Multinationals, by virtue of their global purpose, organization, and
resources, should be treated as single, monolithic agents, rather
than as a network of discrete, non- interdependent units.
Accident after Bhopal
Location Year Origin of incident Chemical involved Number of
Deaths Injured Evacuated
Cochin 1985 Release Hexacyclo-pentadiene - 200 -
New Delhi 1985 Release Sulphuric acid 1 340 >10
Bombay 1988 Fire in refinery Oil 35 16 -
Bhatinda 1989 Leakage Ammonia - 500 -
Nagothane 1990 Leakage Ethane and propane 32 22 -
Leakage from a
Chlorine - 200 -
Vishakhaptnam 1997 Refinery fire LPG 60 31 150000
Vellore 2003 Explosion Explosives 25 3
Mohali 2003 Fire Not known 4 25 -
Cochin 2004 Fire Toluene - Not known -
Source: Research work of B.Karthikeyan “Process Safety Management of India” (iitk.ac.in)
Research work of B.Karthikeyan “Process Safety Management
of India” (iitk.ac.in)
Research work of Vijita.S.Agarwal (Associate prof. USMS IP