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1. Bhopal Gas Tragedy and its Global Effects on Process Safety J.P. Gupta, Ph.D.
Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology
Rae Bareli (U.P.), India
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
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
~ $4 M in 1984 alone
10. Bhopal Plant Safety Check bySafety Survey Team, UCC, USAMay 1982 61 Hazards
30 were Major
11 in MIC and Phosgene Units
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
Bhopal was waiting to happen. Forewarnings
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…’
(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
End of Conference Statement
Formal end statement from attendees
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 IndiaOrder dated February 14, 1989 A five-judge bench presided by the
Chief Justice of India Mr. R. S. Pathak
Union Carbide Corporation………….....Appellant
Union of India and Vice Versa………Respondent
Civil appeal Nos. 3187-88 of 1988
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.
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46. Companies drastically reduced storage
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
50. Research AreasResearching 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