Flow of the presentation Introduction Current Scenario The Fateful Night A Timeline UCC’s Take On The Tragedy The Sabotage Theory Safety Measures Settlement Made By UCC The Tragedy Continues The Corporate Crime Two Decades And A Half Later……. Lessons To Be Learned
Bhopal Gas TragedyRevisited After Twenty-Five Years………………………….
December 3,2009,marked the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst ever industrial disaster-the gas leak that occurred at UCIL pesticide plant in Bhopal.
The tragedy that instantly killed more than 3,000 people (official) or <10,000 people (unofficial)> and left almost 6 lakhs injured and affected for life, occurred when water entered Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) tank no-610 on December 3, 1984.
The Then CEO of UCC,USA
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 US-based UCC, the parent company of UCIL, still continued to evade responsibility. The fact that UCC and then DOW had been able to evade the real costs of compensation and cleanup, was viewed by critics as an example of the power and impunity enjoyed by MNCs. The victims’ struggle against UCC, and then DOW, were recognized as the world’s largest running struggle against corporate excesses. The case covers important issues relating to people’s right, government responsibility, and corporate accountability.
In the months, years, and decades after that disaster, thousands of survivors and their next generations suffered from ill health and multiple symptoms while livelihood and future were severely affected.
By the end of 2009, it was estimated that 30,000 had died and around 700,000 people were affected due to gas-related disorders.
Though the plant was shut down soon after the incident, the toxic left at the factory to create even more havoc with each passing day.
Several metal boxes labeled ‘SEVIN’ containing Nitrate residues also remained at the plant. Some sources estimated that nearly 25,000 tons of contaminated material were present at the plant. A/C to Amnesty International “Bhopal is not just a human rights tragedy from the last century – it is a human rights travesty today. The legacy of Bhopal persists because the people of Bhopal have never been able to claim their rights. Moreover, the negative impacts of the leak are affecting new generations.
New Victims are born everyday ……………………………………………
Even as the victims are continued to suffer, business ethicists and the people around the world were disgusted to see that the company responsible for the disaster refused to be held accountable. “Since the gas disaster of 1984, UCC (now the part of DOW CHEMICALS) has played a cat-and-mouse game of corporate restructuring in a bid to conceal liability from Indian courts” .
The catastrophic event had also contaminated the soil and made the land infertile, as was clear from the fact that there was no grass growing on the land. The contamination level of the soil near and water near the plant is far exceeded permissible limits.
It was reported that after a heavy rainfall, the heavy metals and solvents had seeped in to the ground water resources, contaminating them.
The residents used this water for drinking, cooking, and washing and this has lead to physical disabilities and stunted growth in children.
Bhopal gas tragedy : A Timeline
1934……………………..UCIL is formed 1950s…………..UCIL expands in to chemicals 1969………….Agri product division is launched 1978…….UCIL obtains license to produce MIC in
India 1979…..UCIL plant at Bhopal is inauguratedMay 1980….The Bhopal plant produces its 1st
gallon of MIC 1981-1984…Cut-backs at UCIL 09:30pm,2 December, 1984…….A large quantity
of water entered tank 610 contained more than 40 tons of MIC
12:30am 03 December 1984…..When water mixed with MIC, it triggered an exothermic reaction, producing a lot of heat. This led to sudden increase in pressure and temperature in the tank. As a result the safety valve of the tank burst with a bang.
December 3, 1984….MIC gas leaked at UCIL plant Dec 4, 1984…..The disaster is reported to the
UICL plant located at Connecticut. Anderson is placed under house arrest. UCC organizes a team of international medical experts in addition to providing equipment and supplies, to work with the local medical community in Bhopal.
The technical team at UCC assesses the cause of the gas leak.
Dec 14, 1984…..Anderson commits himself to action and assures the US Congress that such accident will not happen again.
Feb 1985….UCC offers interim relief and establishes Relief Fund.
Mar 1985… GoI enacts the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act.
April 1985…..UCC offers US $7mn interim relief out of which US $5mn is for the relief of victims . GoI REJECTS THE OFFER.
June1985….. UCC funds participation of Indian medical experts July 1985…Some samples confirm that water triggered the
reaction leading to leakage of gas Jan 1986…UCC offers US $10mn to fund a hospital to treat the
victims. Mar 1986…..UCC proposes US $350mn compensation. May 1986….The Bhopal litigation is transferred to INDIA from
the US District Court. An appeal for decision is made by the victims.
Mar 1987……The GoI closes the Bhopal technical and vocational center.
Aug 1987….UCC offers an additional US $4.6mn in humanitarian interim relief
1988….throughout the year, litigation takes place before the Indian courts regarding compensation for the victims.
May 1988….An “Independent” investigation by Arther D Little concludes that sabotage is the reason for gas leak.
Nov 1988…The Supreme court of India asks UCC and GoI to reach a settlement.
Nov 1989-Nov 1991………..review of petitions by SCI. April1992…… UCC announces that it will sell its 50.9% stake in UCIL. Nov 1994….SCI permits UCC to its stake to McLeod Russel (India) Ltd. Oct 1995….Hospital charitable trust begins construction with a fund of US
Safety Measures in UCC plants in the US and India
Health Effects of Key Chemicals Found in Water in the Vicinity of the Plant
Bodies of Victims Pile Up After The Tragedy
Bhopal Memorial for Those Killed & Disabled By The 1984 Toxic gas Release
A Photograph By Raghu Rai That Has Come To Symbolize The Tragedy