The Bhopal Disaster Facts

The Bhopal Disaster Facts
The Bhopal disaster was a gas leak that took place in Bhopal, India at the Union Carbide India Pesticide plant overnight on December 2nd-3rd, 1984. The immediate death toll reached 2,259 and some estimates put the death toll at approximately 8,000 within two weeks of the leak. This gas leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) and other harmful chemicals is considered to be the worst industrial accident in the world's history. The cause of the leak is still debated today while some believe that it was poor management and maintenance of the plant and others believe that water was introduced to the MIC tank by sabotage.
Interesting The Bhopal Disaster Facts:
The Bhopal disaster is also referred to as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
A journalist named Rajkumar Kewsani wrote four articles about Bhopal's Union Carbide plant and the potential for tragedy between 1982 and 1984 - before the incident occurred. The articles were titled Please Save This City; Bhopal Sitting on Top of a Volcano; If You Don't Understand This You'll be Wiped Out; Bhopal on Brink of Disaster.
At the time of the gas leak in Bhopal, the mercury levels were already high at somewhere between 20,000 to 6 million.
The government only officially claimed 5,295 deaths in total but activists put that number closer to 25,000.
Children born to parents in Bhopal following the gas leak have been born with twisted arms and legs, musculoskeletal disorders and brain damage.
The CEO of UCC at the time of the leak Warren Anderson was charged with manslaughter over the incident by Indian authorities. Although arrested he was able to leave the country and returned to the United States and never faced charges in court. He wanted to visit the site before leaving India to find out what happened but was not allowed.
Seven employees of UCC were convicted of criminal charges and spent time in prison.
There were several leaks prior to the December 2nd deadly leak. One occurred in 1976 when employees noticed pollution indoors in the plant; one incident occurred in 1981 when an employee removed his gas mask after being splashed by phosgene and died 72 hours later; one leak occurred in 1982 when 24 employees were exposed to phosgene; one incident occurred in 1982 when MIC leaked and exposed 18 employees; one leak occurred in 1982 when 30% of an employee's body was burned by an MIC leak; one more occurred in 1982 when three employees were exposed to an MIC leak; and there were several leaks of MIC and other dangerous gases and chemicals in 1983 and 1984.
By the time of the Bhopal disaster the plant was not functioning properly. Safety systems did not work and lines and valves were in extremely poor shape. It is believed that water entered a pipe leading into a tank with 42 tons of MIC. An exothermic reaction occurred and gas began to leak. Within 45 to 60 minutes 30 of the 42 tons of MIC had been released into the atmosphere.
Other industrial disasters that have occurred include the Halifax ship explosion (with cargo of high explosives) of 1917 that killed 2,000, and the Port Chicago Disaster (munitions explosion) of 1944 that killed 320 people.


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