Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bhopal Gas Tragedy 1984, In brief

The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

  • It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. 
  • Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around the shantytowns located near the plant. 
  • Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. 
  • The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release.
  • Others estimate 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.
  • A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.
  • The UCIL factory was built in 1969 to produce the pesticide Sevin (UCC's brand name for carbaryl) using methyl isocyanate (MIC) as an intermediate.
  • The gas cloud which was leaked may have contained phosgene, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide,hydrogen chloride, oxides of nitrogen, monomethyl amine (MMA) and carbon dioxide, either produced in the storage tank or in the atmosphere. The gas cloud was composed mainly of materials denser than the surrounding air, stayed close to the ground and spread outwards through the surrounding community.

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