In India on the day of December 2 1984, a serious gas disaster have appeared at the Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide factory in Bhopal, India. This gas disaster has caused many problems from the start such as animal deaths and destruction of crops by making those poisonous. Simple information of the company’s bad behavior is what brought that gas out like a wildfire. Sadly, humans were the ones that have been hit the hardest. Many have died and others had serious effects from these poisons such as illnesses.
Crops were not the only objects that got contaminated. Water was an essential source of liquid for India at that time and all the water in Bhopal were highly contaminated. These problems have caused situations that lasted years later after the incident to everyone that were affected by the gas. Staggering problems occured from the start of Union Carbide’s Bhopal gas disaster and also caused situations years later with contamination and human effects, however information that came out later also destroyed the company involved.
With the subtle yet destructive force, serious problems arose at the start of such a disaster. Due to this company’s objective as a pesticide plant, chemicals inside the factory were air pesticides more than likely as a product. Whenever the incident happened, those chemicals fused as a giant white gas cloud, covered much of the area around the plant. That white gas cloud spread towards suburban areas as well as slums which assaulted many people who came into contact. Common effects towards each person were choking, burning eyes, and nausea leading towards vomiting afterwards. Not only humans were affected, but as well as animals, killing off roughly 2,000 in the cloud of poison. Food supply assisted the deaths of these animals and people. The gas cloud came into contact with the crops to where they were killed off.
It also reached artificially made food to where people would starve for not knowing which was contaminated. All of this happened on such a large scale that many think that this was all done from the company that neglected important situations. Intel from this gas disaster leads to the concept of profits over people.
Many companies now and days are competing to earn more money than their competitor so why would this company not join the bandwagon? The Union Carbide Company (UCC) practiced profits over people. They ended up being cheap with what they have and not produced good enough safety measures to prevent the gas leak. Whenever the gas leaked out and damaged the people’s lives with death and extreme health problems, they only compensated a few hundred dollars to each person for the mishap. This company’s profit over people have cost many people’s lives to become devastated even up to today. Some information pointed out that the UCC also had unsafe work leading to the disaster. The first part were the factory schematics and how they placed many objects inside the factory. Large scale storage containers were inside the building which contained the poison Sevin.
Sevin is mainly used for insecticide to protect crops but the large manufacturing of Sevin was dangerous. This component uses the toxic substance Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) which is highly reactive when set at high temperatures. Another problem with what they had was the containers been made of steel. It does not keep the air from reacting with the high temperatures to where the containers would explode. This also leads to the way that Methyl Isocyanate must cool down. There were no ways to keep it cool so it made the gas more aggravated, causing it to be difficult to contain.
Alarms for such an occurrence of a gas leak were implemented only inside the factory so the residence around the general area would not know until it is too late. The plant design were horrendous for not thinking the safety of the factory and people, yet the personnel were no better. Information from the disaster on the personnel that worked in the factory is the other problem with the safety. During that time, the Union Carbide workers were shifting schedules everywhere. This meaning that the usual workers that worked on those time had many of them change to a different schedule, leaving not as skilled or experienced workers on the job. The workers that worked at the pesticide had no sense of safety. Most of the personnel did not follow safety procedures that were to be followed to avoid such a catastrophe. With addition to the lack of safety, they were ignorant towards each other on their behavior.
A situation where one of the workers that knew something was off with the gas containment units but others played it off as if the worker was paranoid. The cooperation between workers had lead to such a distraught from the gas cloud that appeared. Information from the disaster about the cloud of gas is something of horrendous effect.
This gas cloud were nothing similar to smoke from a fire due to the toxicity of the chemicals living inside it. There were about 45 tons worth of Methyl Isocyanate. That toxic used in pesticides would be a problem with just have a small dose but inside a person but 45 tons would result in a higher and quicker death rate.
The death total revolved around people alone would be at the least 3,400 deaths recorded. An additional of a few thousand were from premature deaths of infants and fetuses. Later in the gas, it turned to a deadlier chemical called hydrogen Cyanide. This element most likely came to form with the atmosphere causing the Methyl Isocyanate to fuse with the existing Hydrogen in the air. This mixture were deadlier than it’s previous form, Methyl Isocyanate.
With all of this information put out, the Union Carbide Corporation attempted to separate responsibility from this incident. From the harmful chemicals in the gas disaster, any human that was in its path were heavily affected with problems. The Methyl Isocyanate deadly attributes is what makes the gas horrifying.
What it specifically targets in the body is the cells that exists within. The poison ultimately kills and destroys the cells in comes into contact with. Methyl Isocyanate more specifically attacks the proteins so that the cell can not function anymore. It lead to a high casualty rate for the people in Bhopal.
The death toll of the people were 3,598 total deaths recorded up to November 1989. The many causes of these death ranged from physical health up towards starvation from not eating contaminated food. The physical health of the person were from chronic inflammatory damage towards the eyes. Which have swelling towards the area around the eyes and bloodshot eyes. Another physical health damage would be causing lung damage. The lung would be caused to have lung spasms which is the constriction of the bronchial tubes, making the lungs not able to retrieve enough air.
The lungs would then not be able to have enough air, suffocating from the lack of air. Others organs were also met with problems with the gas such as the kidney and liver fighting off the toxins and those toxins being purified attack the proteins of the cells from those organs, making detoxifying more difficult and longer process. There were cases of the people affected within the Bhopal gas disaster. Up to March 31st, 1990, up to 639,793 people were recorded as to suspected to have been affected from the gas.
Out of all those cases, the India government reached out to 359,373 to medically get examined. Sadly though, most of the medically checked were recorded under. How they figured out were the doctors checking the blood inside the people who were examined and saw high levels of cyanide coursing through the blood. The people categorized as been exposed to the gas has reached to 357,485 (Chouhan,T.
R., Bhopal The Inside Story). All of these cases have shown how many people have suffered from such misfortune, but it does not end there. The effect of human reproduction took a heavy toll to people that were afflicted by the gas in the disaster. The gas put many women in pregnancy through suffering due to most of them having to abort the child as a miscarriage. The child that was barred by the mother would die before it would be born due to the chemicals being inside the body. A woman named Ajeeza Bi had this problem a few times.
“Ever since the gas,…I have three children from before the disaster and after the gas I have aborted thrice,..
.they were all born dead. All with black skin like the color of coal and all shrunken in size….”(Ajeeza Bi, Affected working woman’s unit). Ajeeza has described the main problems with the children that she had barred such as the skin color as like coal and the bodies were shrunken.
There are a few other problems that exists within a child or a fetus. Both genders would hold a weakened immune system as long as the toxins are still inside the child. Boys will develop small heads and have a stunt in height where they will be shorter than anticipated.
The girls will inherit their mother’s menstrual problems earlier than it is supposed to come(Bhopal Disaster: A Tragic Environmental Pollution Case Study). With such a disaster, not only physical problems would occur, but as well as mental issues and conflict would be with it. From disasters such as these that cost many lives and hurt many others, it would be obvious that this would affect people mentally. Some psychological occurrences would be something of anxiety where the person could be anxious of what would happen next. Some people can develop a phobia where from this, that person could have a fear of what happen such as a gas cloud forming or inhalation of smoke or other substances. A branched off piece of anxiety would be nervousness and also restlessness or more known as insomnia. Lastly, from the high death rate and many cases shown as being contaminated, the person could have a sense of helplessness. This disaster had many people under a rainy cloud from it but the contamination is something of a main reason.
From before the gas disaster happened, there was already some contamination within the area of the factory. The water was the main source of contamination in Bhopal. From practice of the factory such as waste dumping and possibly the use of testing their products’ effectiveness, the water has gotten more lethal. After the gas leaked out though, the water has been highly contaminated and got into the groundwater as well. The groundwater that was in Bhopal were the people’s primary source and with it being contaminated and lethal, the people had no choice but to drink the water to avoid dehydration and death. The water was heavy in metal bioaccumulation and one spot of many areas checked had a factor of 12% mercury within the water. The contamination within the soil was luckily not much compared to others from the disaster.
It had low contamination since the gas typically worked with the soil to keep insects off but it still had a level of metal bioaccumulation with it. How they found out were checking the soil of a few places in and out of the contaminated zone and see what common elements compared in. The air though was the worse of the three comparatively. What the air had were high volatile organic compounds that attacked all organs inside the body. Some of them which caused carcinogens, which are cancer created and birth defects. One was named Chlorinated benzenes. This chemical is mainly used in drugs, dyes, and obviously in pesticides.
Another chemical found in the gas is called chlorinated ethenes. This chemical was originally supposed to be a detoxifying agent but with the gas leak happening, the chlorinated Ethenes is not able to detoxify, but instead the opposite, making it more harmful to people. A commonly known chemical known as chloroform is also present in the air.
In the air, it is a threat not from being itself, but its breakdown product called phosgene and hydrogen chloride which are more toxic than chloroform. Carbon tetrachloride is common in the gas as well. This specific chemical is known to be a human carcinogen and is banned to be used except for a few industrial practices. It in known to be the deadliest part to the gas since it can hamper with the nervous system. Lastly is a chemical called Trichloroethene. This chemical out of all the previous ones is the main cause of any carcinogen cases from liver cancer to kidney cancer. The amount of this element with in the gas were 50 times above the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) safety limit (University of Minnesota, The Bhopal Disaster).
With the contamination of all the water and air from the disaster, there lead to problems from a political standpoint. From the incident that happened, nobody took responsibility for it and it made more people suffer(University of Minnesota, The Bhopal Disaster). The cleaning efforts were put on hold during the time, leading off for the contamination to still be there and possibly envelope the area more permanent. Money was also a key factor for the halt of the cleaning due to the India government not having a large enough budget nor the Union Carbide Corporation being cheap with the money they have.
All of this contamination had been known to the public at the year 1999, which meant that the public did not know that what was contaminated 15 years later of the gas leak. It was also known by the public, in and out of the country, as the “Global toxic hotspot”, due to all the contamination and toxins in the water and the air. With all the contamination and problems from this, it had lead to many other problems politically and socially around Bhopal. After the situation with the gas disaster, only a handful of positive outcomes came and assist those learning from this mistake. One thing was the improvement of the government policy. Ever since the disaster had happened, the India government created the Environmental Protection Act in 1986 which also formed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to help reduce the pollution of the air and clean up the contamination of the areas afflicted. That group also is in charge of taking making and enforcing any environmental laws.
Unfortunately though, during the past 20 years after the incident, the India government were more focused on the economy side to pay off medical and damages of the disaster. Another positive effect after the gas disaster was the improvement of industrial behavior. Many companies around the area have taken action to improve their workplaces and factories so that such a disaster would not occur again. They mainly focused on safety with chemicals that a factory uses in their products and how to prevent the problem occurring in the future. Any future planning on building factories will be reviewed to make sure that any flaws in design such as storage units having a cooling room or emergency alarms being available for everyone in the general vicinity can be notified. Sadly, there are negatives that outweigh the positives of the aftermath of the gas disaster.
Up to today, toxins still leaked out of the factory from years after. Reason for that is the factory is not able to be cleaned out of harmful chemicals and elements. The factory essentially made itself a quarantine zone to where only people properly equipped can pass through without being harmed. The methyl Isocyanate that maintained much of the gas in the factory broke down into less toxic and harmful chemicals.
Which it made cleaning of that specific chemical easier. The metals that leaked out of the factory is still contaminated in some of the water. The aftermath of the disaster also created decades of protesting and violent outburst of the civilians. The civilians that were affected were not happy about the government and the corporation not taking action right away to compensate the mishap.
People would protest about telling the government to take immediate action and try to help the people who suffered in the incident with medical and personal needs. Neither the government or the corporation did anything until a few years later of the disaster but it was poorly done by both sides. From the compensation of a few hundred dollars to each person and political problems with the Union Carbide and government, the people did not get what they want until time had passed. Efforts to fix the situation about the disaster were in effect from within the country. A company called Dow Chemical Company purchased the shares of the Union Carbide Corporation in 2001 as a subsidiary(Encyclopedia Britannica, Bhopal Disaster).
Under legal rights and laws, the Dow company is not affected for the problem that the Union Carbide caused so they do not force them to meet with criminal proceeding meetings in India. They also do not hold any liabilities that the Union Carbide has made. The Union Carbide is still managed as a seperate business so they are still liable of the disaster under their name.
The Dow Chemical pointed out that under all the political problems and courts cases, the disaster could have been preventable. With all the effort to find out what to do about the Union Carbide liability issues of the aftermath of the disaster, the people were in need of assistance. The government were not helping the civilians too much due to figuring out what happened and who to blame for the disaster. This changed in 2004, 20 years later after the incident. The supreme court issued a supply demand from other countries. Those supplies contained food, medical supplies and clean drinking water (Encyclopedia Britannica, Bhopal Disaster).
From typical human nature, the civilians that were affected from the disaster were not too excited about the supplies being brought this late. They still took the supplies they needed but simply the government being this late on assisting the people have not improved moral of any of them. The medical assistance for the people were also doing more harm than good. The civilians say that they get treated like any typical patient that meets a doctor. The medicine that the doctors give do not help them, but instead create more dilemmas such as liver problems to fight off the toxins and drugs. The doctors have some trouble as well.
Due to the sicknesses and issues of all the patients, they have to find ways to compensate all the illnesses without causing more harm to the person. There was a court case that have finally figured out who to blame after all the years of the gas disaster. In 2010, several former executives of Union Carbide India Subsidiary-all Indian citizens- were convicted by a Bhopal court of negligence in the disaster (Encyclopedia Britannica, Bhopal Disaster). With what the executives have done on not noting the situation before it happened, they obtained maximum punishment from the Indian court.
Each of the executives had to pay a fine of over $2,000 and had to serve for two years in prison. This was not enough for the people who had suffered the tragedy. What the people wanted was a closure of the incident. Specifically, they wanted an adequate compensation of money for the figures of health and deaths that the Union Carbide has caused.
The citizens also wanted the chairman and CEO of the Union Carbide, Warren Anderson, to be brought to justice for the gas disaster and its aftermath. They had all blamed him for the incident and for the deaths of thousands. The court has put Warren as a fugitive for him being responsible of the deaths and medical problems of the citizens. He was in America and in charge of over the Union Carbide Corporation. After Anderson has reached the age of 92 though, he had died peacefully in America. Many of the citizens of the incident have mourned and cried from when this news has passed. This wasn’t because he was a good person in the survivors eyes. It was the survivors thought of all hope was lost for enacting justice to who they deemed was responsible.
Many were not satisfied of his death and also blamed the Dow Chemical Company since interacted with the Union Carbide at a business standpoint. The civilians had not stopped fighting for justice back at the start and will not stop until they see a closing point.Staggering problems occured from the start of Union Carbide’s Bhopal gas disaster and also caused situations years later with contamination and human effects, however information that came out later also destroyed the company involved. From the start of the gas disaster, many lives have suffered from a giant white cloud of gas covering the area of Bhopal. Many information has shown the light of what had caused many problems from poor plant design to the personnel of the factory being negligent of the importance of each chemical they associate with. With the giant gas cloud having high variance of toxicity, each person who inhaled the gas had many problems within them, such as lung spasms and constriction to severe organ damaging effects from losing the proteins in the cells.
The people had to put up their primary source of water to be contaminated as well as the air they breath to retain for years. Many efforts were in effect to help people after the gas disaster, but many people wanted to see a new dawn of justice towards the man named Warren Anderson and to have better compensation for all the lives that factory have took. Many residences of the Bhopal gas disaster will never forget the day of what had happened to them and everyone around them for it is known as the worst industrial accident in history.