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Bhopal gas tragedy - Case Study

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Bhopal Gas Tragedy A case study

Bhopal Gas Tragedy A case study16-02-20151

1 An overview: Background About Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) The Leakage The Factors Aftermath of the leakage Health Effects Rehabilitations Response Legal Actions Study reveals16-02-20152BACKGROUND:

The Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) factory was built in 1969 to produce the pesticide Sevin using Methyl Iso cyanate (MIC). An MIC production plant was added in 1979.

2 3 December 1984, a very tragic day in the history of Bhopal and also India. The leakage of 40 metric tons of Methyl Iso Cyanate from the storage tank into the atmosphere in just about 45 to 60 minutes, and the gases were blown in south eastern direction of Bhopal. 16-02-20153

About Union Carbide India Limited: In the 1970s, the Indian government initiated policies to encourage foreign companies to invest in local industry. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) was asked to build a plant for the manufacture of Sevin , a pesticide commonly used throughout Asia. As part of the deal, India's government insisted that a significant percentage of the investment come from local shareholder. UCC built the plant in Bhopal named Union Carbide India Limited because of its central location and access to transport infrastructure. The specific site within the city was zoned for light industrial and commercial use, not for hazardous industry. The plant was initially approved only for formulation of pesticides from component chemicals, such as MIC imported from the parent company, in relatively small quantities. However, pressure from competition in the chemical industry led UCIL to implement "backward integration". This was inherently a more sophisticated and hazardous process. Attempts to reduce expenses, affected the factory's employees and their conditions. Promotions were halted , seriously affecting employee to move somewhere else. By 1984, only six of the original twelve operators were working and the number of supervisor were also less as compared to earlier. This issues between the workers and the management lead to poor maintenance and working condition. It can be summarized that a poor management was a leading factor into the disaster as it created a unfriendly working environment.

16-02-20154The Leakage:

In November 1984, most of the safety systems were not functioning and many valves and lines were in poor condition. Tank containing 42 tons of MIC, was much more than what safety rules allowed. During the nights of 23 December, a large amount of water is claimed to have entered the tank. As a resultreaction started, which was accelerated by contaminants, high temperatures and other factors. The reaction generated a major increase in the temperature inside the tank to over 200C (400F). This forced the emergency venting of pressure from the MIC holding tank, releasing a large volume of toxic gases. The reaction was sped up by the presence of iron from corroding non-stainless steel pipelines.Owing of this, and the poor maintenance, the workers consider that water might have accidentally entered the tank. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) maintains that a "disgruntled worker" deliberately connected a hose to a pressure gauge connection.16-02-20155Factors leading to the magnitude of gas leak includes:Storing MIC in large tanks and filling beyond recommended levels.Failure of several safety systems due to poor maintenance.Safety systems being switched off to save money including the MIC tank refrigeration system which could have mitigated the disaster.The problem was made worse by the mushrooming of slums in the vicinity of the plant, non-existent catastrophe plans.Use of more dangerous pesticides manufacturing method, large scale MIC storage, plant location close to a densely populated area.Dependence on manual operation.Plant management deficiencies were also identified- lack of skilled operators, reduction of safety management, insufficient maintenance and inadequate emergency 16-02-20156Numerous incidents that fore-warned of an oncoming disaster:In 1981, a worker got splashed with phosgene. In panic he ripped off his mask, thus inhaling a large amount of phosgene gas. He died 72 hours later.In January 1982, there was a phosgene leak, 24 workers were exposed and had to be admitted to hospital. Enquiry reveals that non of them had been ordered to wear protective masks.In february 1982, an MIC leak affected 18 workers.In august 1982, a chemical engineer came into contact with liquid MIC , resulting in burns over 30% of his body.During 1983 & 1984 , leaks of following substances regularly too place in the plant: MIC, Chlorine, Monomethylamine , Phosgene & Carbon tetrachloride and sometimes in combination.Reports issued months before the incident, by UCC engineers warned of the possibility of incident almost identical to that what happened in Bhopal. The reports never reached UCCs senior management16-02-20157 Aftermath of the Leakage:Medical staff were unprepared for the thousands of casualties.Doctors in the hospitals were not informed of the proper method of treatment for MIC. They were told simply to give medicine of cough and eye drops to the patients.Within a few days trees in the vicinity became barren.2000 bloated animal carcasses had to be disposed. The complaints of lack of information/ misinformation were widespread. The UCILs medical officers & Local medical practitioners did not have proper idea about properties of these gases and its related treatment.Formal statements were announced that air, water, vegetation and foodstuffs were safe within the city. At the same time, people were informed that poultry was unaffected but were warned not to consume fish.

16-02-20158 Health EffectsShort Term Health Effects:The gas cloud was composed mainly of materials denser than the surrounding air, stayed close to the ground and spread outwards through the surrounding community. The initial effects of exposure were: coughing; vomiting;severe eye irritation; and a feeling of suffocation. Long Term Health Effects:An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people have permanent injuries ranging from symptoms like: eye problems,respiratory difficulties, immune and neurological disorders, cardiac failure secondary to lung injury, female reproductive difficulties and birth defects among children born to affected women.16-02-20159Rehabilitation:Economic rehabilitationOccupational rehabilitationHabitation rehabilitationHealthcare rehabilitationEnvironmental rehabilitation:

When the factory was closed in 19851986, pipes, drums and tanks were sold. The MIC and the Sevin plants are still there, as are storages of different residuesThe area around the plant was used as a dumping area for hazardous chemicalsIn order to provide safe drinking water to the population around the UCC factory, there is a scheme for improvement of water supplyIn 2005, the state government invited Indian architects to enter their concept for development of a memorial complex for Bhopal gas tragedy victims at the site of Union Carbide16-02-201510Response:

Union Carbide states on its website that it put $2 million into the Indian Prime Minister's immediate disaster relief fund on 11 December 1984.The corporation established the Employees' Bhopal Relief Fund in February 1985, which raised more than$5 millionfor immediate relief.According to Union Carbide, in August 1987, they made an additional$4.6 millionin humanitarian interim relief available16-02-201511Legal action against Union Carbide:Legal proceedings involving UCC, the United States and Indian governments, local Bhopal authorities, and the disaster victims started immediately after the catastrophe.

Charges against Warren Anderson and others:UCC Chairman, CEO Warren Anderson was arrested and released on bail by the Madhya Pradesh Police in Bhopal on 7 December 1984. The arrest, which took place at the airport, ensured Anderson would meet no harm by the Bhopal community. Anderson was taken to UCC's house after which he was released six hours later on $2,100 bail and flown out on a government plane.

16-02-201512 Study revealsOngoing Contamination:

Chemicals abandoned at the plant continue to leak and pollute thegroundwater.UCC's laboratory tests in 1989 revealed that soil and water samples collected from near the factory were toxic to fishIn 2002, an inquiry found a number of toxins, includingmercury,lead, trichlorobenzene,dichloromethane andchloroform, in nursing women's breast milk.In 2009, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi based pollution monitoring lab, released test results showing pesticide groundwater contamination up to three kms. from the factory.

16-02-201513Death and physically effected: 23000 (approx.) number of people died from the effects till end of 20048000(approx.) number of people died in the first 72 hours.146 number of children died immediately after the gas leak.331 number of children below 12 years born with congenital diseases till 2009.113 children's above 12 years with congenital diseases till 200916-02-201514

Amazing truth:Five people found to be named after the tragedyGasdeviZeherlalGasbanoGasu PathanGasmiya

References:Internet (Wikipedia),People Tribute, journals, Netphotograph.com. 16-02-201515thanking you,

Binoy DasAshraf Uddin AhmadDept. of Business AdministrationAssam University16-02-201516