Report Example on the Bhopal Disaster

2021-06-07 15:56:10
5 pages
1259 words
University/College: 
Middlebury College
Type of paper: 
Report
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History and Introduction of The Disaster

In a bid to attract more investors, developing countries have been known to stimulate investment opportunities in their marketplaces. However, often these countries are generally vulnerable to industrial crises as they typically lack the infrastructure to sustain certain technologies, a factor that however does not dissuade them from setting up and maintaining industrial plants. Such was the case with India and the Bhopal plant. The Bhopal plant was a part of the Indians government initiative for a green revolution. It was aimed at increasing the productivity of crops through the production of pesticides locally. Thus, to encourage investment from foreign companies, Union Carbide Corporation was invited to build a Sevin production plant in Bhopal (Weick, 2010).

The Bhopal location was selected for its accessibility to transport infrastructures and central location. However, the site was zoned for light commercial and industrial use and not for hazardous industry. Also, it was initially proposed that Sevin, the pesticide, would be produced from component chemical imported from the parent company, a decision that was later abandoned in favor of manufacturing the raw chemicals and intermediate products in the Bhopal facility. However, the production of these raw chemicals was a hazardous and complicated process that the Bhopal plant was not in a position to handle (Broughton, 2005).

Chains of Events Leading to The Disaster

Prior to adopting the local production of intermediate and raw chemicals strategy, the pesticide plant did not produce the sales amounts that had been projected by Union Carbide India Ltd, a subsidiary of the parent company. Due to competitive pressure and in a bid to cut costs, the decision was made to produce, in large amounts, the highly toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) as it was cheaper to produce locally. Furthermore, to cut more cost, the maintenance of and training at the factory were considerably cut back. Maintenance procedures and safety standards at the plant had been deteriorating for months. Employees at the factory noticing these deplorable conditions had been complaining and were constantly warning the management on the dangers of ignoring them, however, the management did not take any action to rectify this situation (Rosenberg, 2017).

Among some of the defects that led to the Bhopal disaster include the unreliable pressure and temperature measuring gauges that workers constantly ignored, the shutting off of the refrigeration units that kept the MIC at low temperatures to prevent its overheating if a contaminant entered the tank, the shutting off for maintenance of the gas scrubbers that were designed to neutralize any escaping MIC, although as it was later determined that even if it was functional, it could not have handled the pressure during the accident. Also, due to the production of MIC in large quantities, the reserve tanks for excess MIC were already full, which meant that the other tanks were filled beyond recommended capacity. Additionally, alarms designed to go off in the event of a temperature rise did not go off (Broughton, 2005). Thus, as a result of a combination, of negligence, human, technical and organizational error, the Bhopal disaster was inevitable.

Discussion of The Disaster

On the night of December third in nineteen eighty-four, a hazardous chemical reaction began to take place in one of the MIC storage tanks. The reaction was as a result of a large of water leaking into the tank. This leak led to the reaction that led to the release of the MIC as it was being heated. Although the leak was detected by the workers when they noticed their eyes were tearing up and burning, when they reported it, the supervisors at the plants did not take action until it was already too late. In the meantime, the MIC in large amounts had poured out of the tank and into the air for nearly two hours. In this time, the gas had spread over eight kilometers downwind, into a region that was populated by about nine hundred thousand people. The most affected places were the densely-populated slums in the immediate vicinity, of the Railway Colony, Chola Kenchi, Jayaprakash Nagar and Kazi Camp. It is estimated that over four thousand people died in the sleep or as they fled, and over four hundred thousand people still bear the brunt of this disaster to this day (Broughton, 2005).

Professional and Ethical Responsibilities of Various Parties

Ethical and professional responsibilities are of the highest priority in any industry. The safety of the workers, as well as the community surrounding any industry, has to be considered and met before and during the operation of an industrial plant. However, in the case of the Bhopal plant, the parties involved did not meet these responsibilities. For starters, the government approved the construction of a hazardous industrial plant in the immediate vicinity of a densely-populated area. It neglected its responsibility to protect its citizens rather made decision based on foreign investment and profits. In an ideal case, in establishing such a plant, the civilization, the environment, and the location have to be considered (Broughton, 2005).

Secondly, in establishing the Bhopal plant, the engineers as well as the management of the plant sis not implement critical safety. Also, training and educating plant employees and the implementation of ethical codes was not facilitated by the plant management. As a result, the employees were not equipped to handle any unforeseen incidents in the plant. The employees were not aware of the importance of ethical code while working with the machinery. Thus it is clear that the responsibility for risk assessment, ethical codes, and safety was not in the engineers criterions while setting up the plant.

Impact of The Disaster in A Global, Economic, Environmental and Societal Context

The Bhopal disaster sparked the worlds largest lawsuit to date. The lawsuit is known to have spawned half ways across the globe and went on for a period of more than seven years. The lawsuit resulted in the compensation of four hundred and seventy million dollars, a settlement that was condemned by the victims of the disaster. Such condemnation could be attributed to the fact that the parent company, United Carbide Corporations denies any and all responsibility for the accident. Also, according to a court ruling in the united states, the victims cannot seek compensation from a U.S court, all cases have to be handled in the Indian justice system. The disaster also had significant environmental impacts as the soil and water in the affected regions is was contaminated thus no longer viable, which means that the society existing in this region had to relocate to avoid further health complication from the disaster (Weick, 2010).

Contemporary Issues Related to The Disaster.

Presently, it has been established that still, more than four hundred tons of hazardous industrial waste still exist in the region. this waste is as a result of the Indian government, or the Dow Chemical Company, the company that acquired Union Carbide Corporation, not properly cleaning out the region. furthermore, the contaminated water and soil in the region have been associated with increased number of defective births and other chronic health problems being experienced by the inhabitants of this region. consequently, as a result of this contamination, the Indian government thought the supreme court ruled that the state should provide clean water to the Bhopal resident so as to avoid further health problems (Weick, 2010).

 

References

Broughton, E. (2005). The Bhopal disaster and its aftermath: a review. Environmental Health, 6.

Rosenberg, J. (2017, April 7). Huge Poison Gas Leak in Bhopal, India. Retrieved from ThoughtCo.: https://www.thoughtco.com/huge-poison-gas-leak-bhopal-india-1779415

Weick, K. E. (2010). Reflections on Enacted Sensemaking in the Bhopal Disaster. Journal of Management Studies, 537-550.

 

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