Bhopal TragedyThe Bhopal Tragedy refers to the deaths of over 3,000 people in the Indian city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, following the accidental release of forty tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) on December 2-3, 1984. At least 50,000 people suffered significant injury.
The MIC was released from a chemical plant in the city producing pesticides. Owned by Union Carbide, the plant had been established in 1969 and expanded to produce Sevin in 1979; MIC was an intermediate in Sevin manufacture.
The accident was caused by the introduction of water into MIC holding tanks, the reaction generated large volumes of gas forcing the emergency release of pressure. The gas escape was caused as the chemical 'scrubbers' which should have treated the gas were off-line for repairs at the time of release. The majority of deaths and serious injuries were related to pulmonary oedemas, but the gas caused a wide variety of other ailments.
In an out-of-court settlement reached on February 14, 1989, Union Carbide agreed to pay $470,000,000 to the Indian government for damages it caused in the Bhopal Tragedy. (The original lawsuit was for $3 billion.)
Very little of the settlement money went to the survivors, and people in the area feel betrayed not only by Union Carbide (and chairman Warren Anderson,) but also by their own politicians. On the anniversary of the tragedy, effigies of Anderson and politicians are burnt.
Rates of cancer and other ailments are higher in the region since the event.