The Bhopal Gas Tragedy

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG009
Case Length : 09 Pages
Period : 1980-2001
Pub. Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Union Carbide India Limited
Industry : Chemicals
Countries : India

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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The Journey from Virginia to Bhopal

In the beginning of the 20th century, UCC was born of a merger of four US companies producing batteries and arc lamps for street lighting and headlamps for cars. By the second half of the 20th century, UCC had 130 subsidiaries in 40 countries, approximately 500 production sites and 120,000 employees...

All's Not Well with the Bhopal Plant

Since 1980, the Bhopal plant had caused death and injury to many. In December 1981, plant operator Mohammed Ashraf was killed by a phosgene gas leak. Two other workers were injured. In May 1982, three American engineers from the chemical products and household plastics division of UCC came to Bhopal...

The Tragedy

On the night of December 2, 1984, during routine maintenance operations at the MIC plant, at about 9.30 p.m., a large quantity of water entered storage tank no. 610 containing over 40 tons of MIC. This triggered off a reaction, resulting in a tremendous increase of temperature and pressure in the tank...

Union Carbide Takes the Offensive

Following the accident, the GoI filed a compensation lawsuit against the UCC for an estimated US$3 billion. However, UCC felt that the GoI was to blame for the disaster. In December 1986, UCC filed a countersuit against the GoI and the State of Madhya Pradesh...

The Settlement

Within months after the disaster, the GoI issued an ordinance appointing itself as the sole representative of the victims for any legal dealings with UCC as regards compensation. The ordinance was later replaced by the Bhopal Gas Leak (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985...


Exhibit I: The Site for The Pesticide Factory


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