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Bhopal Gas Tragedy and its Global Effects on Process Safety

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Bhopal Gas Tragedy and its Global Effects on Process Safety

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    1. Bhopal Gas Tragedy and its Global Effects on Process Safety J.P. Gupta, Ph.D. Director Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology Rae Bareli (U.P.), India and Professor and Chairman (Retired) Department of Chemical Engineering Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur-208016 (U.P.), India

    2. Gas affected area of Bhopal

    3. The accident 41 T of MIC and its reaction products released (Table 1) Cold winter midnight of 2nd – 3rd December 1984 Between 00:40 and 02:30 AM approx. At 30m (100ft) height Moved as a 10m (30ft) high wall Covered residential areas, main hospitals, railway station, 65 sq. km. area (25 sq. miles)

    4. Approx. 8000 immediate deaths, over 200,000 suffered Over 12000 more died since, over 120,000 still suffering UC continued to deny any long-term effects ‘…the first time in recorded human history that almost a whole town was gassed in peace time.’ (Wil Lepkowski, C&EN, Feb. 11, 1985)

    5. Post-mortem Reports Cerebral oedema Massive pulmonary oedema Massive destruction of lung tissues Massive Coagulation of blood leavin parts of circulatory system drained of blood Damaged liver and kidneys

    6. Amongst immediate arrivals in Bhopal were Doctors from all over India NGOs volunteering help Media persons Politicians Accident claim lawyers from USA Chemical Warfare experts from several countries

    7. Table 3: Factors Contributing to the Accident Design Plant overdesigned 150% against product demand survey (5000 tpa vs. 2000 tpa) Lower capacity utilization 1982 – 2308 T 1983 – 1647 T 1984 - <1000 T Mounting losses ~ $4 M in 1984 alone

    10. Bhopal Plant Safety Check by Safety Survey Team, UCC, USA May 1982 61 Hazards 30 were Major 11 in MIC and Phosgene Units Poor Maintenance Leaky Valves Faulty gauges Warned of leak of enormous magnitude Report marked ‘Business Confidential’.

    14. Operating Procedure and Personnel Training Failure to pressurize tank 610 with nitrogen ignored repeatedly Refrigeration unit shut down several months before to save electric bill ( ~ $20 per day) Flare tower and scrubber non-operational while large amount of MIC in tanks

    15. Spare tank not empty for MIC transfer Tank 610 filled to > 75%. Pressure rose faster. Recommended filling ~ 50% Lessons not learned from earlier accidents, including a fatality Water flushing of pipes re-ordered without investigating what was preventing water from coming out of the other end

    16. New staff told MIC could irritate eyes or produce skin rashes only Loud alarm turned off after a few minutes as per company policy Civic authorities not told about the toxic nature of MIC and other chemicals. No emergency plans to rescue people. Doctors not told the antidote

    17. Comparison with 9/11 attacks in NY Immediate deaths ~ 3000 Time to unfold the tragedies ~ 105 to 110 min Bhopal : 00.40 AM to 2.30 AM N.Y. : 08.45 AM to 10.30 AM Both Man-made Bhopal was waiting to happen. Forewarnings ignored. NY attacks deliberately planned

    18. Comparison with Exxon Valdez No human casualty in Valdez Average $ 80,000 to restore a seal back into water Over 4 billion dollars spent on clean-up 4.5 billion compensation ordered

    20. ‘…Who shall say whether those who died…are not fortunate to have known no slow fading of life…’ Helen Keller (slightly paraphrased) (Watson ‘ Light from many lamps’)

    21. UCC Engg. Dept. on Danger Of Groundwater Contamination (July 21, 1972): Proposed design poses “danger of polluting subsurface water supplies in the Bhopal area” and “new ponds will have to be constructed at one to two-year intervals throughout the life of the project” in order to address this problem. 

    24. December 1-3rd IIT, Kanpur, India 150 attendees from 26 countries 85 papers End of Conference Statement Formal end statement from attendees Recommendations International follow up group

    29. On ICMR Research: Started as purely scientific long-term effects Political pressures started Researchers could not publish/ discuss findings Only ICMR could publish research data and results Research would have revealed extent of damage due to MIC Would have proved cyanide poisoning Could affect compensation and legal redressal Could positively affect treatment

    30. Supreme Court of India Order dated February 14, 1989 A five-judge bench presided by the Chief Justice of India Mr. R. S. Pathak Union Carbide Corporation………….....Appellant Versus Union of India and Vice Versa………Respondent Civil appeal Nos. 3187-88 of 1988 With Special Leave petition (Civil) No. 13080 of 1988

    31. UCC shall pay $470 M in full settlement of all claims, rights and liabilities.. Payment by 31st March 1989 All civil proceedings stand concluded and all criminal proceedings stand quashed

    32. Societal Effects No or little earnings reduced self esteem Heavy loans to pay for medicines Children future destroyed Men unmarried since cannot earn Women unmarried since gynaecological problems suspected Children could be affected for life Despised by doctors, government, bureaucrats, rich Bhopalis Forgotten by media

    33. In 20 years of voluntary group activities: Achievements Monetary assistance from government received Increased relief and rehabilitation efforts by Government Supply of potable water to affected areas Submitted plans for soil and ground water cleanup Demonstrations at Dow’s annual shareholders’ meeting in USA Univ. of Michigan students asked university not to take Dow funding. Withdrawal of criminal immunity from UCC

    34. New Life to Bhopal Case After BP Spill in Gulf of Mexico US got over $20 B compensation A Bhopal Court had announced a bailable sentence of 2 years on 7 accused in the case. Activists rallied in India against the nominal compensation paid by Union Carbide and nominal sentence for the death of over 5000

    36. Cases were filed against Union Carbide of gas Incident under these Acts of Indian Penal Code Act 304 II – Punishment for human slaughter crime comes under category of murder. In this Act, there is provision of 10 years punishment and fine. (This Act was removed in year 1996) Act 304 A – Causing Death by negligence. In this Act, there is provision of maximum 2 years punishment and fine. Act 336 – Work by which life of other people or personal well-being is endangered. In this Act, there is provision of maximum 3 months punishment and fine up to Rs. 250. Act 337 – Causing hurt to any person by doing any activity so rashly or negligently, endangering life or personal safety of others. In this Act, there is provision of maximum 6 months punishment and fine up to Rs. 500. Act 338 – Causing grievous hurt by doing any activity, endangering life or personal safety of others. In this Act, there is provision of maximum 2 years punishment and fine up to Rs. 1000

    38. Failure of Central Bureau of Investigation C.B.I has failed to present Mr. Warren Anderson and other accused in Court and Prosecute them.

    39. Demands Fast-track hearing of the case. Formation of a Commission to review the status of suffering. Social rehabilitation of those who suffered. Supply of potable water. Disposal of hundreds of tons of hazardous waste. Cleaning of polluted subsoil. Penalty in B P Oil leak in Gulf of Mexico and Bhopal Tragedy should be similar.

    41. Questions that arise How will Compensation be claimed from Union Carbide? How will Ex-Chairman Mr. Warren Anderson be Summoned?

    42. Deficiencies in specialist hospital created to treat Bhopal Gas Victims Shortage of employees Low quality medicines No record of patients Have not developed the correct protocol of treatment

    43. Supreme Court Decision May 11, 2011 Refused CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) application for enhancement of Penal Code provisions Asked CBI why the delay of 14 years in filing application since earlier decision to reduce the criminal provisions Allowed CBI to approach lower court for enhancement of punishment

    44. www.bhopal.net www.bhopal.net has 2,000+ pages. If you have a special interest, use this page to guide you. Use the search engine. Access the entire site below. Still need help? Email us. OPINION ACTION PRESS RELEASES

    46. Companies drastically reduced storage inventories Imparted better training Adopted ‘Responsible Care’ Governments adopted several and severe legislations More thorough accident investigations Significant liabilities imposed

    47. Companies carry higher insurance, also mandatory Public Liability Insurance (India) Accident databases to help the process industry Stricter process industry licensing requirements Colleges started teaching process safety Accreditation requirement in several countries

    48. EU set-up JRC, ECPS India set-up DMI in Bhopal US Government set-up CSB Dow issued ‘Chemical Exposure Index’ for gaseous releases. IAEA + WHO + ILO issued two detailed guidelines on Process Industry Risk Calculations

    49. Processes now require a broad, multidisciplinary rethinking. New designs must assure Process and operator safety Sustained health of workers and community Viability of environment Robust plants

    50. Research Areas Researching in process safety has several advantages Good science based legislation instead of ‘knee-jerk’ reactions Getting chemists and chemical engineers together in process developments early

    51. Legislation Dramatic changes since Bhopal EU, India, USA, most other countries enacted numerous (sometimes onerous) laws Multilateral activities involving international organizations: EC, ILO, IPCS, IAEA, IMO, UNEP, UNIDO, OECD, WHO, WB, NATO, etc.

    52. Actions by Local People Regular interaction with plant managers Monitor safety and environment performance Active use of ‘Community Right to Know’ and ‘Freedom of Information’ Acts

    53. NGOs ensure corporate actions UNEP’s APELL used by many globally Reduces chance and severity of disasters

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