Bhopal gas tragedy Essay

Length: 3430 words

The Papal disaster, also referred to as the Papal gas tragedy, was a gas leak Incident In India, considered the world’s worst Industrial disaster. Let occurred on the night of 2-3 December 1984 at the union Carbide India Limited (CULL) pesticide plant in Papal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl assassinate gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around the shantytowns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259.

The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. CULL was the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (USC), with Indian Government controlled banks and the Indian public holding a 49. 1 percent stake. In 1994, the Supreme Court of India allowed USC to sell Its 50. Recent Interest In CULL to Eveready Industries India Limited (ILL which subsequently merged with McLeod Russell (India) Ltd. Eveready

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Industries India, Limited, ended cleanup on the site in 1998, when it terminated its 99-year lease and turned over control of the site to the state government of Madhya Pradesh. DOD Chemical Company purchased USC in 2001 , seventeen years after the disaster. Civil and criminal cases are pending In the District Court of Papal, India, Involving USC and Warren Anderson, USC CEO at the time of the In June 2010, seven ex-employees. Including the former CULL chairman. Re convicted In Papal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a flee of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by Indian law. An eighth former employee was also convicted, but died before the Judgment was passed. Before accident The CULL factory was built In 1969 to produce the pesticide Seven (Sac’s brand name for carbonyl) using methyl Assassinate (MIMIC) as an Intermediate. A MIMIC production plant was added In 1979. After the Papal plant was built, other manufacturers including Brayer produced carbonyl without MIMIC, though at a greater manufacturing cost.

However, Brayer also used the USC process at the chemical plant once owned by USC at Institute, West Virginia, LISA. The chemical process employed in the Papal plant had amphetamine reacting with phosgene to form MIMIC, which was then reacted with I-naphtha to form the final product, carbonyl. This “route” deferred from the MIMIC-free routes used elsewhere, In which the same raw materials were combined In a different manufacturing order, with phosgene first reacting with naphtha to form a chloroformed ester, which was then reacted with amphetamine.

In the early sass, he demand for pesticides had fallen, but production continued, leading to buildup of stores of unused MIMIC. Factors leading to the magnitude of the gas leak mainly included problems such as; storing MIMIC in large tanks and filling beyond recommended levels, poor maintenance after the plant ceased MIMIC production at the systems being switched off to save money? including the MIMIC tank refrigeration system which could have mitigated the disaster severity.

The situation was worsened by the mushrooming of slums in the vicinity of the plant, non-existent catastrophe plans, and shortcomings in health care and socio-economic rehabilitation. Other factors identified by the inquiry included: use of a more dangerous pesticide manufacturing method, large-scale MIMIC storage, plant location close to a densely populated area, undersized safety devices, and the dependence on manual operations.

Plant management deficiencies were also identified – lack of skilled operators, reduction of safety management, insufficient maintenance, and inadequate emergency action During accident In November 1984, most of the safety systems were not functioning and many valves and lines were in poor condition. In addition to this, several vent gas scrubbers had en out of service as well as the steam boiler, intended to clean the pipes was infiltration. Other issue was that, Tank 610 contained 42 tons of MIMIC which was much more than what safety rules allowed.

During the night of 2-3 December 1984, Neater entered Tank IEEE containing 42 tons of MIMIC. A runaway reaction started, Inch was accelerated by contaminants, high temperatures and other factors. The reaction was sped up by the presence of iron from corroding non-stainless steel pipelines. The resulting exothermic reaction increased the temperature inside the tank to over 200 co (392 OF) and raised the pressure. This forced the emergency denting of pressure from the MIMIC holding tank, releasing a large volume of toxic gases.

About 30 metric tons of methyl assassinate (MIMIC) escaped from the tank into the atmosphere in 45 to 60 minutes. Much speculation arose in the aftermath. The closing of the plant to outsiders (including USC) by the Indian government and the failure to make data public contributed to the confusion. The initial investigation was conducted entirely by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (SIR) and the Central Bureau of Investigation. Theories differ as to how the water entered the tank. At the time, workers were cleaning out a clogged pipe with water about 400 feet from the tank.

They claimed that they were not told to isolate the tank with a pipe slip- blind plate. The operators assumed that owing to bad maintenance and leaking ‘elves, it was possible for the water to leak into the tank. However, this water entry route could not be reproduced. USC maintains that this route was not possible, but Instead alleges water was introduced directly into the tank as an act of sabotage by a disgruntled worker via a connection to a missing pressure gauge on the top of the tank. Early the next morning, a CULL manager asked the instrument engineer to replace the gauge.

Scull’s investigation team found no evidence of the necessary connection; however, the investigation was totally controlled by the government, denying USC investigators access to the tank or interviews with the operators. USC believed that a “disgruntled worker” deliberately connected a hose to a pressure gauge connection and was the real cause. After accident ere initial effects of exposure were coughing, vomiting, severe eye irritation and a feeling of suffocation. People awakened by these symptoms fled away from the plant. Those who ran inhaled more than those who had a vehicle to ride.

Owing to their height, children and other people of shorter stature inhaled higher concentrations. By the morning hours. There were mass funerals and mass cremations. Bodies were dumped into the Miranda River, less than 100 km from Papal. 170,000 people were treated at hospitals and temporary dispensaries. 2,000 buffalo, goats, and other animals were collected and buried. Within a few days, leaves on trees yellowed and fell off. Supplies, including food, became scarce owing to suppliers’ safety fears. Fishing was prohibited causing further supply shortages.

Within a few days, trees in the vicinity became barren, and 2,000 bloated animal carcasses had to be disposed of. On 16 December, tanks 611 and 619 were emptied of the remaining MIMIC. This led to a second mass evacuation from Papal. The Government of India passed the ‘Papal Gas Leak Disaster Act” that gave the government rights to represent all dictums, whether or not in India. Complaints of lack of information or misinformation Nerve widespread. An Indian Government spokesman said, “Carbide is more interested in getting information from us than in helping our relief work. Formal tenements were issued that air, water, vegetation and foodstuffs were safe within the city. At the same time, people were informed that poultry was unaffected, but Nerve warned not to consume fish. No one under the age of 18 was registered at the time of the accident. The number of children exposed to the gases was at least 200,000. The acute symptoms were burning in the respiratory tract and eyes, paleographers, breathlessness, stomach pains and vomiting. The causes of deaths Nerve choking, reflecting circulatory collapse and pulmonary edema.

Findings during autobiographies changes not only in the lungs but also cerebral edema, uvular necrosis of the kidneys, fatty degeneration of the liver and engrossing enteritis. The stillbirth rate increased by up to 300% and neonatal mortality rate by around 200%. Whether hydrogen cyanide (HCI) was present in the gas mixture is still controversy. Cyanide concentrations of 300 pump can lead to immediate collapse. ere non-toxic antidote sodium tessellate (Nauseas) in intravenous injections increases the rate of conversion from cyanide to non-toxic technicians.

Initial reports based on the autopsies of victims’ bodies suggested cyanide poisoning based on Inch Sac’s Dry. Pain Aphasia advised amyl nitrate and sodium theosophical. Treatment was tentatively used on some people, with mixed results. Critics argue that both the Government and Union Carbide tried to avoid mentioning the emotionally provocative word “cyanide. ” Exposed to high temperatures, MIMIC breaks down to hydrogen cyanide (HCI). According to Killing and Lori, at +200 co, 3% of the gas is HCI.

However, according to another scientific publication,Ml when heated in the gas-phase starts to break down to hydrogen cyanide (HCI) and other products above 400 co. Chemically, HCI is known to be very reactive with MIMIC. HCI is also now to react with hydrochloric acid, ammonia, and amphetamine (also produced in tank 610 during the vigorous reaction with water and chloroform) and also with itself under acidic conditions to form trimmers of HCI called treatises. Laboratory replication studies by SIR and USC scientists failed to detect any HCI or HCI- derived side products.

None of the HCI-derived side products were detected in the tank residue. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release Long term effects Health effects Research (COMIC) was forbidden to publish health effect data until 1994. A total of 36 Nards were marked by the authorities as being “gas affected”, affecting a population of 520,000. Of these, 200,000 were below 1 5 years of age, and 3,000 were pregnant Omen. The official immediate death toll was 2,259, and in 1991, 3,928 deaths had been officially certified.

Others estimate 8,000 died within two weeks. Later, the affected area was expanded to include 700,000 citizens. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. Health care In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the health care system became overloaded. Within weeks, the State Government established a number of hospitals, clinics and mobile units in the gas-affected area to treat the victims.

Since the leak, large number of private practitioners were opened in Papal. In the severely affected areas, nearly 70 percent were underspecified doctors. Medical staff was unprepared for the thousands of casualties. Doctors and hospitals were not aware about proper treatment methods for MIMIC gas inhalation and they were directed to give cough medicine and eye drops to the patients. The Government of India had focused primarily on increasing the hospital-based services for gas victims thus hospitals had been built after the disaster.

When USC wanted to sell its shares in CULL, it was directed by the Supreme Court to finance a 500-bed hospital for the medical care of the survivors. Thus, Papal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BOMBER) was inaugurated in 1998 and was obliged to give free care for survivors for eight Hears. BOMBER was a 350-bedded super specialist hospital were heart surgery and hemophilia’s were done however, there was dearth of campanology, obstetrics and dramatics. Eight mint-units (outreach health centers) were started and free health care for gas victims were to be offered till 2006.

The management had also faced problems with strikes, and the quality of the health care being disputed. Sambaing Trust is a charitable trust, registered in 1995, that gives modern as well as revivification’s to gas victims, free of charge. Environmental rehabilitation “hen the factory was closed in 1986, pipes, drums and tanks were sold. The MIMIC and the Seven plants are still there, as are storages of different residues. Isolation material is falling down and spreading. The area around the plant was used as a dumping area for hazardous chemicals.

In 1982 tubeless in the vicinity of the CULL factory had to be abandoned and tests in 1989 performed by Sac’s laboratory revealed that soil and water samples collected from near the factory and inside the plant were toxic to fish. Several other studies had also shown polluted soil and groundwater in the area. Reported polluting compounds include I-naphtha, naphthalene, Seven, tarry residue, mercury, toxic organogenesis, volatile reconciling compounds, chromium, copper, nickel, lead, historicalness, hexachlorobutadiene, and the pesticide HCI.

In order to provide safe drinking water to the population around the CULL factory, Government of Madhya Pradesh presented scheme for improvement of water supply. Len December 2008, the Madhya Pradesh High Court decided that the toxic waste should be incinerated at Anklebones in Gujarat, which was met by protests from activists all over India. On 8 June 2012, the million) to dispose of CULL chemical plants waste in Germany. On 9 August 2012, Supreme court directed the Union and Madhya Pradesh Governments to, take immediate steps for disposal of toxic waste lying around and inside the factory within ix-month.

A US court rejected the law suit blaming USC for causing soil and water pollution around the site of the plant and ruled that responsibility for remedial measures or related claims rested with the State Government and not with USC. Len 2005, the state government invited various Indian architects to enter their “concept for development of a memorial complex for Papal gas tragedy victims at the site of Union Carbide”. In 2011, a conference was held on the site, with participants from European universities which was aimed for the same.

Occupational and habitation rehabilitation 3 of the 50 planned work-sheds for gas victims started. All except one was closed down by 1992. 1986, the PM government invested in the Special Industrial Area Papal. 152 of the planned 200 work-sheds were built and in 2000, 16 were partially functioning. Let was estimated that 50,000 persons need alternative Jobs, and that less than 100 gas victims had found regular employment under the government’s scheme. The government also planned 2486 flats in two- and four-story buildings in the “Widows colony” outside Papal.

The water did not reach the upper floors and it Nas not possible to keep cattle which were their primary occupation. Infrastructure like buses, schools, etc. Were missing for at least a decade. Economic rehabilitation Immediate relieves were decided two days after the tragedy. Relief measures commenced in 1985 when food was distributed for a short period along with ration cards. Madhya Parthenogenesis’s finance department allocated 874 million (US $13 million) for victim relief in July 1985. Widow pension of 200 (US$3. 10)/per month :later 750 (IIS$1 1)) were provided.

They government also decided to pay 1500 (US$23) to families with monthly income 500 (US$7. 70) or less. As a result of the interim relief, ore children were able to attend school, more money was spent on treatment and food, and housing also eventually improved. From 1990 interim relief of 200 (IIS$3. 10) Nas paid to everyone in the family who was born before the disaster. The final compensation, including interim relief for personal injury was for the majority 25,000 VS.$380). For death claim, the average sum paid out was 62,000 (US$950).

Each claimant were to be categorized by a doctor. In court, the claimants were expected to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that death or injury in each case was attributable to exposure. In 1992, 44 percent of the claimants still had to be medically examined. Ay the end of October 2003, according to the Papal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department, compensation had been awarded to 554,895 people for injuries received and 15,310 survivors of those killed. The average amount to families of the dead was $2,200. In 2007, 1,029,517 cases were registered and decided.

Number of awarded cases were 574,304 and number of rejected cases 455,213. Total compensation awarded was 15464. 7 million(US$240 million). On 24 June 2010, the Union Cabinet of the Government of India approved a 12650 million (IIS$190 million) id package which would be funded by Indian taxpayers through the government. Union carbide’s defense it on its website dedicated to the tragedy. The corporation claimed that the incident Nas the result of sabotage, stating that safety systems were in place and operative. It also stressed that it did all it could to alleviate human suffering following the disaster.

Investigation into possible sabotage Theories differ as to how the water entered the tank. At the time, workers were cleaning out pipes with water. The workers maintain that entry of water through the lane’s piping system during the washing of lines was possible because a slip-blind Nas not used, the downstream bleeder lines were partially clogged, many valves were leaking, and the tank was not pressurized. The water, which was not draining properly through the bleeder valves, may have built up in the pipe, rising high enough to pour back down through another series of lines in the MIMIC storage tank.

Once water had accumulated to a height of 6 meters (20 feet), it could drain by gravity flow back into the system. Alternatively, the water may have been routed through another standby “Jumper line” that had only recently been connected to the yester. Indian scientists suggested that additional water might have been introduced as a “back-flow” from the defectively designed vent-gas scrubber. However, none of these postulated routes of entry could be duplicated when tested by the Central Bureau of Investigators (CB) and CULL engineers.

Union Carbide cited an investigation conducted by the engineering consulting firm Arthur D. Little, which concluded that a single employee secretly and deliberately introduced a large amount of water into the MIMIC tank by removing a meter and connecting a water hose directly to the tank through the metering port. Carbide claimed that such a large amount of water could not have found its way into the tank by accident, and safety systems were not designed to deal with intentional sabotage. Documents cited in the Arthur D.

Little report stated that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CB) along with CULL engineers tried to simulate the water-washing hypothesis as a route of the entry of water into the tank. This test failed to support this as a route of the water entry. USC claims the plant staff falsified numerous records to distance themselves from the incident, and that the Indian Government impeded its investigation and declined o prosecute the employee responsible, presumably because that would weaken its allegations of negligence by Union Carbide. 54] Safety and equipment issues ere corporation denied the claim that the valves on the tank were malfunctioning, and claimed that the documented evidence gathered after the incident showed that the valve close to the plant’s water-washing operation was closed and was leak-tight. Furthermore, process safety systems had prevented water from entering the tank by accident. Carbide states that the safety concerns identified in 1982 were all allayed before 1984 and had nothing to do with the incident. 5] The company admitted that the safety systems in place would not have been able to prevent a chemical reaction of that magnitude from causing a leak. According to Carbide, “in designing the plant’s safety systems, a chemical reaction of this magnitude was not factored in” because ‘the tank’s gas storage system was designed to automatically prevent such a large amount of water from being inadvertently introduced into the system” and “process safety systems?in place and operational?would have prevented water from faulty design or operation?was the cause of the tragedy” . 5] Response ere company stressed the “immediate action” taken after the disaster and their continued commitment to helping the victims. On 4 December, the day following the leak, Union Carbide sent material aid and several international medical experts to assist the medical facilities in Papal. [55] 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. [55] The corporation established the Employees’ Papal Relief Fund in February 1985, which raised more than $5 million for immediate relief. [56]

According to Union Carbide, in August 1987, they made an additional $4. 6 million in humanitarian interim relief available. [56] Union Carbide stated that it also undertook several steps to provide continuing aid to the victims of the Papal disaster. The sale of its 50. 9 percent interest in CULL in April 1992 and establishment of a charitable trust to contribute to the building of a local hospital. The sale was finalized in November 1994. The hospital was begun in October 1995 and was opened in 2001. ere company provided a fund with around $90 million from sale of its CULL stock.

In 1991, the trust had amounted approximately $100 million. The hospital catered for the treatment of heart, lung and eye problems. USC also provided a $2. 2 million grant to Arizona State University to establish a vocational-technical center in Papal, which Nas opened, but was later closed by the state government. They also donated $5 million to the Indian Red Cross after the disaster. They also developed a Responsible Care system with other members of the chemical industry as a response to the Papal crisis, which was designed to help prevent such an event in the future.

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