A curtain of gas rapidly dispersed over Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India without warning, causing hemorrhaging, muscular convulsion and blindness – leaving its victims defecating and urinating in their clothes – wishing for death. In the dark early hours of December 3rd, 1984, children, elderly – men and women of all ages were dying from a poisonous methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas poisoning which treacherously leaked from the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant. The leak of MIC gas and other toxic chemicals resulted in the immediate death of an estimated 3,828 people. By the end of its peregrination the gas leak caused the death of an estimated 15,000 people due to the poor condition of the valves and lines in the plant; namely the failure of Tank 610 that contained 42 tons of MIC – much more than safety rules allowed. This system failure, invoked India to take action early on by arresting those they felt should be held responsible. They also provided medical aid for victims, started up an investigation and took the case to the Supreme Court where a settlement was made. Furthermore, there were many efforts to clean up the area and dispose of the contaminants plaguing Bhopal and to warn the populace of the potential hazards and dangers in surrounding areas and in the water supply.
The United States and India were not the only countries taking action; Canada, too, responded to Bhopal by creating the Major Industrial Accident Council of Canada (MIACC) in 1987. The world is affected by the cataclysm until this day and rigorous time and effort has been dedicated to finding the causes and potential solutions to these atrocious malfunctions. Though peace may never be attained by those touched by this devastation; the globe learns from the calamity in hopes that industries around the world will heed warnings and be more cautious to system failures in the future.
Several tragic accidents occurred in the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant throughout the years but this particular incident was by far the most tragic and did not go unnoticed. Though speculations still surrounds the Bhopal Tragedy, the fact remains that the cause of this catastrophe is with the ultimate failure of Tank 610, which contained 42 tons of MIC. Earlier in November 1984, most of the safety systems were not functioning. Many valves and lines were in poor condition. And on December 2nd and 3rd a large amount of water is claimed to have entered tank 610. A runaway reaction started, which was accelerated by contaminants, high temperatures and other factors. The reaction generated a major increase in the temperature inside the tank to over 200 °C (400 °F). This forced the emergency venting of pressure from the MIC holding tank, releasing a large volume of toxic gases. The reaction was sped up by the presence of iron from corroding non-stainless steel pipelines.
It is known that workers cleaned pipelines with water. They were not...