Multinational’s lackadaisical attitude led to world’s worst industrial disaster

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Information about Multinational’s lackadaisical attitude led to world’s worst industrial...
Health & Medicine

Published on March 7, 2014

Author: renzilde



Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world's worst industrial disaster.
What happened 30 years ago in Bhopal- India. Due to the conflict between Indian government and Union Carbide Corporation about the responsibility of what happened. A lot of information still hidden. Investigators were prevented to meet Indian employees.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy Multinational’s Lackadaisical Attitude led to World’s Worst Industrial Disaster Renzil D’cruz

Bhopal disaster: What Happened? When? • Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world's worst industrial disaster. • It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. • Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. 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 diseases. • 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. Renzil D’cruz

Why? Who is Responsible? • UCIL was the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), with Indian Government controlled banks and the Indian public holding a 49.1 percent stake. • Warren M. Anderson is a former chairman and chief executive officer of Union Carbide currently living in United States of America and sought by Indian government for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. • One analysis shows that the causes of the leakage, irrespectively of how water entered the pipelines, were the design of the plant and the economic pressure. The parties responsible for the magnitude of the disaster, including the consequences, are Union Carbide Corporation and the Governments of India and Madhya Pradesh. Renzil D’cruz

• Warren Anderson (Above) and Poster about the green revolution enhanced by Union carbide corporation in India(left)

Reasons • What happened 30 years ago in Bhopal- India. Due to the conflict between Indian government and Union Carbide Corporation about the responsibility of what happened. A lot of information still hidden. Investigators were prevented to meet Indian employees. • Poor management systems • Early warnings • The event was preceded by warning events since 1976, but neither the UCIC took a step to treat the events noted nor do anything to mitigate the consequences of an event could happen later. Additionally, no one was punished for this irresponsibility • Contributing factors • Storing the MIC in large tanks more than the advised level. Poor maintenance after the plant stops MIC production in 1984. • Safety systems were in a stand by mood to save money. This includes the MIC storage tank refrigeration system which could prevent this disaster. Actually there was no Freon in the system. • No emergency plans for evacuation of people or medical treatment for any catastrophic gas release.

• Working conditions • serious communication problems and management gaps between Union Carbide and its Indian operation • the parent companies hands-off approach to its overseas operation • cross-cultural barriers • Equipment and safety regulations • The MIC tank alarms had not been working for four years and there was only one manual back-up system, compared to a four-stage system used in the United States. Renzil D’cruz

Timeline The Indian government investigations concluded that the following scenario occurred on • December 2 1984: 10:20 p.m.: the pressure in Tank 610 was at 2 psig . This is normal and indicates that no react ion has taken place yet. • 10:45 p.m.: Start of shift change, the shift change takes at least half an hour during which the MIC storage tanks are completely deserted • 11:30 to 12:45 p.m.: MIC reaction with water was initiated and MIC together with carbon dioxide were carried th rough the header system and out of the stack of the vent gas scrubber • 11:30 p.m.: A small MIC leak reported downwind in vicinity of the MIC unit When notified, the supervisor said t hat he would deal with it after tea which went from 12:15 a.m. to 12:40 a.m. • 12:40 p.m.: Control room operator observes sharp rise in pressure within the tank. • 12:45p.m: Safety valve opened and the gas escaped out of the scrubber. Workers start transferring around one of the tank contents to the SEVIN unit, trying to get the water out. • Next morning: Not realizing the gravity of the tragedy, the workers involved during the previous night altered logs to disguise their involvement.

About UCC • In 1994, the Supreme Court of India allowed UCC to sell its 50.9 percent interest in UCIL to Eveready Industries India Limited (EIIL), which subsequently merged with McLeod Russel (India) Ltd. • Eveready Industries India, Limited, ended clean-up 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. • Dow Chemical Company purchased UCC in 2001, seventeen years after the disaster. Renzil D’cruz

Union Carbide's defence • Investigation conducted by the engineering consulting firm Arthur D. Little • Safety and equipment issues • 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 million for immediate relief. August 1987, they made an additional $4.6 million in humanitarian interim relief Renzil D’cruz available.

Legal action against Union Carbide • Legal proceedings leading to the settlement • “Separate entity, owned, managed and operated exclusively by Indian citizens in India”-UCIL,Jan 1987 • The Government of India refused the offer from Union Carbide and claimed US$ 3.3 billion. The Indian Supreme Court told both sides to come to an agreement and "start with a clean slate" in November 1988.Eventually, in an out-of-court settlement reached in February 1989, Union Carbide agreed to pay US$ 470 million for damages caused in the Bhopal disaster, 15% of the original $3 billion claimed in the lawsuit. • Charges against UCC and UCIL employees Renzil D’cruz

About Case • In August 2009, a UCC spokesperson said Union Carbide had no role in operating the plant at the time as the factory was owned, managed and operated by employees of Union Carbide India Limited. • Eight former senior employees of the subsidiary were found guilty on June 7, 2010. • After these convictions, a UCC spokesperson said, "All the appropriate people from UCIL – officers and those who actually ran the plant on a daily basis – have appeared to face charges." Renzil D’cruz

Conclusion • The Bhopal tragedy sent shockwaves throughout the chemical industry, both the human heartbreak and the utter technical negligence came as a slap across the face for the chemical industry, provoking wide scale changes and highlighting process safety as a crucial and indispensable element at both the technical and managerial levels. • Perhaps it is too late as to search for ‘who’ was behind such a tragedy, as the balance of power between the poor labourers and the major multinational will just carve another chapter into our book of human misery. • Nevertheless, it is crucial to analyse the tragedy and try to overcome all the failures that led to it, something the chemical industry has successfully managed to achieve over the past decades. Renzil D’cruz

Thank You. • Questions ??? • Comments #@$% • Concerns !!!

Source • _study • 256/CHEN%20455%20Bhopal%202009%20report.pdf?sequ ence=2 • • • •

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