Bhopal gas tragedy is an industrial accident happened in India in December of 1984. The significant release of such a hazardous gas as methyl isocyanate at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) plant in Bhopal led to deaths of about 3,000 people during the first week after the accident.
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The water entered the tank with the chemicals, and the chemical reaction led to the release of toxic gases. The amounts of released gases caused the environmental disaster and affected the health of thousands of people.
The Main Causes of Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Discussing the key causes of Bhopal gas tragedy, it is possible to focus on two theories. The proponents of the first theory support the idea that the main causes of the disaster are directly associated with the weaknesses in governance at the plant.
The lack of investment, focus on undertrained employees, bad equipment, bad maintenance associated with storing hazardous chemicals in inappropriate tanks, and poor safety systems caused the risky situation. The supporters of the other theory state that the main cause of the accident is the sabotage associated with employees’ actions.
In this case, the problem of governance is also important because the inappropriate management could lead to creating the dangerous situation at the plant. Furthermore, the safety system was not developed and supported by the government to address the possible risky situation. From this point, both the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and the Government of India were responsible for the accident.
The Impact and Magnitude of the Industrial Accident
The industrial accident associated with the release of toxic gases led to the deaths of about 8,000 people during the first two weeks after the accident. Having analyzed the details of the accident, it is possible to state that the lack of the effective safety measures led to the disaster causing the environmental, social, and economic catastrophe.
About 500,000 people were injured because released chemicals caused blindness, asthma, the central nervous system’s problems, anemia, and diseases in children as a result of the air, water, and soil pollution. The foods grown at the territories round the plant were inappropriate for eating. Thousands of people had to migrate from the polluted lands.
Evaluation of Response Measures
The UCC’s immediate response to the disaster was effective from the point of minimization of the possible gas leaks and safety precautions, but response measures associated with the aspect of morality and responsibility were ineffective because the UCC rejected their responsibility for the accident.
However, the responsibility was admitted by the UCC later, and the corporation focused on providing required settlements. In this case, the Indian government’s actions were rather effective to gain the compensation, because the government reacted to the disaster while enacting the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act in 1985.
As a result, the Indian government could represent the interests of the victims outside India. Furthermore, the actions of the Indian government allowed receiving significant settlement funds. The other responses include the development of the health care system in India.
Recommendations to Minimize Effects
In order to minimize the negative effects of similar accidents, it is necessary to focus on the improvement of risk management in organizations. It is necessary to classify all possible risks according to their severity, probability, and outcomes and develop the plan of actions depending on the character of the risk.
- The first step is the development of the effective risk management plan.
- The second step is the development of the effective modern safety system to avoid the risk of sabotage and any other accidents.
- It is important to avoid locating hazardous works at highly populated territories.
- The management systems in organizations and healthcare systems should be improved according to the local policies and national surveillance programs.
- Organizations and authorities should focus on educating people about the risks of chemicals and about health and environmental threats.