Infamous Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL)

The Bhopal plant was designed, built, owned and operated by UCIL, an Indian company in which UCC- Union Carbide Corporation, held just over half of the stock. Indian financial institutions and thousands of private investors in India held the rest of the stock.

*Union Carbide corporation is a subsidiary of DOW or Dow Chemical Company.

Situated in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the Bhopal plant was built in 1969 and a production facility was added in 1979. The plant produced pesticides for use in India to help the country’s agricultural sector increase its productivity and contribute more significantly to meeting the food needs of one of the world’s most heavily populated regions. The plant never resumed normal operations after the December 1984 gas leak.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy:

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy, 1984 was a catastrophe that had no parallel in the world’s industrial history.

In the early morning hours of December 3, 1984, a rolling wind carried a poisonous gray cloud from the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh (India).

Forty tons of toxic gas (Methy-Iso-Cyanate, MIC) was accidentally releasedfrom Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant, which leaked and spread throughout the city.

As the UCC CEO, Warren Anderson was charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, grievous assault and killing and poisoning human beings and animals, he was soon released on bail under controversial circumstances. by Indian authorities.

What caused the gas leak?

Some two and a half years after the tragedy, and only after the Indian government’s reluctant release of some 70,000 pages of documentation, UCC filed a lengthy court document in India detailing the findings of its scientific and legal investigations: the cause of the disaster was undeniably sabotage.UCC’s investigation proved with virtual certainty that the disaster was caused by the direct entry of water into Tank 610 through a hose connected to the tank.

Who could have sabotaged plant operations and caused the gas leak?

Investigations suggest that only an employee with the appropriate skills and knowledge of the site could have tampered with the tank. An independent investigation by the engineering consulting firm Arthur D. Little, Inc., determined that the water could only have been introduced into the tank deliberately, since process safety systems — in place and operational — would have prevented water from entering the tank by accident.

In February 1989, the Supreme court of India directed UCC to pay $470 million to settle all claims arising from the tragedy. The government, UCC and UCIL agreed with the ruling, and the two companies paid the settlement on 24 February.

UCIL maintained a low profile in the post-Bhopal period. The chairman, Keshub Mahindra, and the Bhopal factory manager, J.Mukund, moved on to new positions. Most of the Bhopal plant managers left the company after the plant closed. UCIL closed the pesticide plant and reduced the Research and Development Center in Bhopal to a skeleton staff.

Following the tragedy, the Government of India took control of the property. In 1994, Union Carbide sold its shares in UCIL to McLeod Russell. UCIL was subsequently renamed [Eveready Industries] India Ltd. (EIIL). As part of this transaction, EIIL became the property leaser and assumed responsibility for the site environmental cleanup.

On 14 January 1987, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a decision by the U.S. District Court to send the legal case against UCC to India. It ruled UCIL was a separate and independent legal entity managed and staffed by Indian citizens.

In June 2010, seven former employees of UCIL, all Indian nationals and many in their 70s, were convicted of causing death by negligence and each sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined Rs.1 lakh (US$2,124). All were released on bail shortly after the verdict. The names of those convicted are: Keshub Mahindra, former non-executive chairman of Union Carbide India Limited; V.P. Gokhale, managing director; Kishore Kamdar, vice-president; J. Mukund, works manager; S.P. Chowdhury, production manager; K.V. Shetty, plant superintendent; and S.I. Qureshi, production assistant.

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