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Case study for Bhopal Gas Tragedy

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  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 07 Jul, 2022
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The Bhopal disaster occurred on the night of December 2-3, 1984, at the Union Carbide India Ltd pesticide facility in Bhopal. This catastrophe affected around 500,000 people. People who were exposed are still suffering as a result of the gas leak’s long-term health impacts. Chronic eye difficulties and respiratory problems were some issues due to it. Children who have been exposed have stunted growth and cognitive impairments.


UCIL was a pesticide manufacturing plant that produced the insecticide carbaryl. Carbaryl was discovered by the American company Union Carbide Corporation, which owned a significant share in UCIL. As an intermediary, UCIL produced carbaryl using methyl isocyanate (MIC). Other techniques of producing the ultimate product are available, but they are more expensive. The very toxic chemical MIC is extremely dangerous to human health. Residents of Bhopal in the area of the pesticide plant began to feel irritated by the MIC and began fleeing the city.

Reasons for gas leak

  1. During the buildup to the spill, the plant’s safety mechanisms for the highly toxic MIC were not working.
  2. Many valves and lines were in disrepair, and many vent gas scrubbers were not working, as was the steam boiler that was supposed to clean the pipes.
  3. The MIC was stored in three tanks, with tank E610 being the source of the leak. This tank should have held no more than 30 tonnes of MIC, according to safety regulations.
  4. Water is believed to have entered the tank through a side pipe as technicians were attempting to clear it late that fatal night.
  5. This resulted in an exothermic reaction in the tank, progressively raising the pressure until the gas was ejected through the atmosphere.

Effects of Gas Leak

  1. Thousands had died as a result of choking, pulmonary edema, and reflexogenic circulatory collapse.
  2. Neonatal death rates increased by 200 percent.
  3. A huge number of animal carcasses have been discovered in the area, indicating the impact on flora and animals. The trees died after a few days. Food supplies have grown scarce due to the fear of contamination. 
  4. Fishing was also prohibited.
  5. In March 1985, the Indian government established the Bhopal Gas Leak Accident Act, giving it legal authority to represent all victims of the accident, whether they were in India or abroad.
  6. At least 200,000 youngsters were exposed to the gas.
  7. Hospitals were overcrowded, and there was no sufficient training for medical workers to deal with MIC exposure.


In the United States, UCC was sued in federal court. In one action, the court recommended that UCC pay between $5 million and $10 million to assist the victims. UCC agreed to pay a $5 million settlement. The Indian government, however, rejected this offer and claimed $3.3 billion. In 1989, UCC agreed to pay $470 million in damages and paid the cash immediately in an out-of-court settlement.

Warren Anderson, the CEO and Chairman of UCC, was charged with manslaughter by Bhopal authorities in 1991. He refused to appear in court and the Bhopal court declared him a fugitive from justice in February 1992. Despite the central government’s efforts on the United States to extradite Anderson, nothing happened. Anderson died in 2014 without ever appearing in a court of law.

Sample Questions

Question 1: When did the methyl-isocyanate leak from the UC facility begin?


At 12 a.m. on December 2, 1984, a highly hazardous gas called methyl isocyanate (MIC) began escaping from the U.C. facility.

Question 2: How many people were dead within 3 days during Bhopal gas tragedy?


More than 8000 people were killed in three days.

Question 3: What is the full form of CNG?


Compressed Natural Gas.

Question 4: What issues does the Bhopal tragedy brought to the forefront?


The Bhopal accident has brought environmental issues to the forefront.

Question 5: What is the government’s responsibility as a lawmaker and enforcer?


As both a legislator and an enforcer, the government is responsible for ensuring that safety rules are followed.

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