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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Introduction Contd...

The catastrophe raised some serious ethical issues. The pesticide factory was built in the midst of densely populated settlements. UCIL chose to store and produce MIC, one of the most deadly chemicals (permitted exposure levels in USA and Britain are 0.02 parts per million), in an area where nearly 120,000 people lived.

The MIC plant was not designed to handle a runaway reaction. When the uncontrolled reaction started, MIC was flowing through the scrubber (meant to neutralize MIC emissions) at more than 200 times its designed capacity. MIC in the tank was filled to 87% of its capacity while the maximum permissible was 50%.

MIC was not stored at zero degree centigrade as prescribed and the refrigeration and cooling systems had been shut down five months before the disaster, as part of UCC's global economy drive.

Vital gauges and indicators in the MIC tank were defective. The flare tower meant to burn off MIC emissions was under repair at the time of the disaster and the scrubber contained no caustic soda.

As part of UCC's drive to cut costs, the work force in the Bhopal factory was brought down by half from 1980 to 1984.

This had serious consequences on safety and maintenance. The size of the work crew for the MIC plant was cut in half from twelve to six workers...

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