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Transcript of Bhopal
Gilbert McKenzie On the early morning of December 3, 1984, at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, extremely toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) was released after reacting with water, and resulted in extensive destruction to lives and the environment.
The exact number of people who died is unknown, as is the amount currently suffering whether they were alive during the incident, or are children of the gas victims.
Most importantly, this disaster could have been avoided had proper process safety practices been in place. Background Union Carbide was recruited by the Indian government to help contribute to their economy.
The plant began in 1969, producing the pesticide carbaryl, called Sevin.
But due to decrease in pesicide demand, in 1979, the plant began producing all starting materials in an attempt to reduce cost. Unsafe practices directly resulted from cost-cutting measures and exploitation of Indian workers compared to Union Carbide workers in the US.
Training duration for personnel dropped considerably leading up to the accident.
Less people were hired to do the same amount of work as before cost -cutting initiatives.
Equimpment and safeguards at the West Virginia plant and the Bhopal plant differ considerably. One of the most fundamental errors that plant managment made involved using the chemical reaction route leading to the production of methyl isocyanate only as an intermediate. It is highly exothermic when reacted with water.
One of the most toxic TLV-TWA values - 0.02 ppm. The specification for the tanks were eight feet in diameter by 40 feet long, allowing for a capacity of 45 tons of MIC. 10:20 pm - at end of second shift, pressure of tank 610 at normal pressure of 2 psig
10:45 pm - at start of next shift, everything claimed normal
11:30 pm - leak reported; experiencing MIC irritation; maintenanced delayed till after supervisor's tea break
12:15 am - police notified of leak
12:30 am - water sprayed to find leak, but no leak found
12:50 am - vigorous leaking from vent gas scrubber line
1:00 am - siren turned off after a couple of minutes
2:00 am - community feeling the effects of MIC gas
3:00 am - many in 'dying condition' Lessons Learned Should not have the capacity to store such large amounts of toxic gas like MIC.
Water source should not have been anywhere near MIC, regardless of the cause of contamination - sabatoge or water-washing theory. 1 2 3 4 5 6 The government or Union Carbide should have bought up the land surrounding the plant to avoid shantytowns from developing.
The village people were all asleep as the time of the release, and without an emergency evacuation plan, they were all left to suffer and die. Cost cuts led to unreliability with plant equipment, including alarms.
Safeguards, like the refridgeration units on MIC storage tanks were turned off.
Vent gas scrubber and flare were not functioning, but even if they had at the time of release, they were deemed uncapable of managing such a large release. Workers were threatened with termination at minimal wages.
Training duration for workers decreased as cost cutting continued.
Conditions for workers were substandard, having contact with hazardous chemicals.
Due to poor safety culture, workers lived in constant fear of management. Emergency evacuation plans did not exist.
Alarms were turned off that alarmed the community.
Effects of gas were only considered to be a mild irritant.
Hospitals were maimed by gas and were not able to aid gas victims at high capacity. Immediate death counts are diputed, ranging from 2,000 to 10,000.
Number of deaths was determined by number of death certificates, but many people died in shanytown alleyways.
Those that died in hospitals, many families took them before death certificates could be issued. Methyl isocyanate also had detrimental effects on the environment, including: animals, water supply, and land viability. Justice for the People Union Carbide executives were tried and sentenced to 2 years in prison.
They were tried for death by negligence. Alternative reaction to produce carbaryl existed without having MIC intermediate.
Chemicals of alternative reaction are not nearly as toxic as MIC. Aftermath Indian Government reported an official number of 2,259 deaths. 10,000 deaths were estimated by the number of death shrouds sold. Air Quality Even three days after the incident, concentrations near the plant were recorded at 4.5 ppm. Concentrations in the city were recorded at 2.5 ppm. Environmental Impact Case Reopened With, pressure from The Central Bureau of Investigation of India (CBI), The Indian Supreme Court has reopened the Bhopal case
The CBI believes there is enough evidence to show commission of an offence of homicide
The Indian Government is also hoping to hold Dow Chemical Company liable, because of their purchase of Union Carbide in 1999. Recommendations Better training and attention to problems.
Effective emergency readiness.
Use of alternative reaction to produce pesticide product.
Proper maintenance of equipment.
Use of reliable materials.
Taking into account nearby hazards, such as the shantytowns surrounding the plant. Conclusions The chemical industry has learned much from the lack of process safety at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal.
Many measures implemented today, directly reflect lessons learned. QUESTIONS? Compensation including rehabilitation and inflation. Compensation numbers not including rehabilitation for gas victims. After much deliberation, a settlement was reached between Union Carbide and the government of India totaled $470 million. Timeline