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Sunday, December 03, 2006
22 years later, we have forgotten something, which we never really wanted to remember. We have pushed it into one corner of our memories, and try not to stir up the ghost of 3rd december 1984 and face the disconcerting reality it represents. read it and weep
Where : - Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, ( literally meaning central province ) in India.
When :- 3rd December 1984
What :- 40 tonnes of MIC, methyl iso cyanide, a heavier than air toxic gas overheated and spilled out of its tanks in the middle of bustling heavily populated city in the morning hours, killing many while they slept, killing many as they ran to escape, killing many who were in trains passing through, still killing through toxic pollution and disease after all these years.
How many: - 20,000 deaths as a conservative estimate. 3000 killed initially...and the toll is still rising.
Who was responsible: - Union Carbide owned this company. It did not put adequate safety or warning procedures in place. Now owned by the Dow Chemical Company. The government did not do its part in making sure they checked the plant and the processes regularly.
Redress :- Average compensation paid to the families of the dead - $2200
Insurance coverage of the company - $10 Billion
Damages paid - $470 million.
What the company says : - A single employee deliberately pumped in water to the gas tanks causing the overflow and escape of gas. There was no fault of the company. This employee has never been named or any charges pressed against him.
What went wrong : - 1. Untested unproven technology was used. 2. No disaster management plan was ever made. 3. Warnings by scientists in Union Carbide were ignored. 4. Safety checks were infrequent. 5. Slip-blind plates that would have prevented water from pipes being cleaned from leaking into the MIC tanks via faulty valves were not installed. Their installation had been omitted from the cleaning checklist. 6. The MIC tank refrigeration unit was disabled to save money. 7.The gas scrubber was placed on standby. 8. Though the audible external alarm was activated to warn the residents of Bhopal, it was quickly silenced to avoid causing panic among the residents. Thus, many continued to sleep, unaware of the unfolding drama, and those that had woken assumed any problem had been sorted out. 9.The flare tower used to burn off gases before they are allowed to escape into the air was inoperational pending repairs. 10. The water curtain that may have reduced the concentration of the gas was only set to ~13 m and did not reach the gas.