Bhopal Case Study - Rapid Urbanisation in LEDC's

An extensive study of the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

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Martha Brown Geography Homework 06/02/2012
Mrs Hall
Bhopal Case Study
In Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India there was a serious industrial accident. Poisonous gas
escaped from a chemical plant and caused huge problems for people, both immediately and
It all started when a cleaner did not cut off the pipes, isolating tank 610 when cleaning them
out. This caused fresh water to be sent into tank 610.
Tank 610 had over 42 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate (more than legally allowed) inside.
The water started a chain reaction inside the tank and temperatures soared to about 200ºc
causing a massive expansion in the gases. An emergency venting of pressure caused a large
volume of highly toxic gases to be released into the pipe network.
During the hearing it was also found that the reaction was sped up by the presence of iron on
the inside of the pipe. Had all the safety systems been functioning the gases would have
been re-directed through safer routes buying Union Carbide more time to neutralize the
Plant management deficiencies were also identified
o lack of skilled operators
o reduction of safety management
The tank vents were at 40', with the sprays designed to neutralize
leakages sprayed at 15'.
o insufficient maintenance
o inadequate emergency action plans
Happened on the 3rd of December 1984, at around 3am.
Due to the gas cloud being made of compounds denser than normal air, the cloud stayed low,
mixing with the communities.
Initial deaths (3-6 December): more than 3,000 - official toll
Unofficial initial toll: 7,000-8,000
Total deaths to date: over 15,000
Number affected: Nearly 600,000
Compensation: Union Carbide pays $470m in 1989
o Individual survivors only ended up with around $500 to pay for their life-long
disease or disability.

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Martha Brown Geography Homework 06/02/2012
Mrs Hall
2006 affidavit stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and
approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.
o The initial effects of exposure included:
severe eye irritation
a feeling of suffocation
o Many people fled the scene as they woke up feeling the symptoms, except those
who ran were trampled, and some inhaled more than those who stayed.…read more

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Martha Brown Geography Homework 06/02/2012
Mrs Hall
o lung injuries
o female reproductive difficulties
o birth defects among children born to affected women.
Swaraj Puri (Chief of Police) was preparing for bed when he heard a
man shouting. It was a pleasant, cool, night, he remembers. Bhopal's
chief of police went outside. "I had young children and I didn't want them
to be woken," he says. "I asked what the problem was. He said there was
something happening in the Carbide area.…read more

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Martha Brown Geography Homework 06/02/2012
Mrs Hall
A memorial to the Bhopal disaster in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh (right)
A petition made by the Indians for the extraction of Anderson from the UK (left)…read more


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