Bhopal Gas Disaster (Video Notes)

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Western University
Geography 2152F/G
Bharat Punjabi

Bhopal Gas Disaster 262012 13600 PM Background y The Bhopal disaster was one of the worst ever in the history of industrialization in the modern world y Matched only in its extent and impact by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine y 1960s India faced a large food shortage y Union Carbide moved in from the US to help solve problems o Began to slack on safety protocols and cut costs y 194 leak of methyl isocynate and other deathly gases lead to the death of approximately 15000 people and hundreds of thousands effected y Bhopalthe capital of the central Indian state of Madhya PradeshMajor Themes y India Union Carbide Corporation now Dow Chemicals o Came to India in the late 60s o Mainly set up to produce pesticides and fertilizer o Negligence o Warren Anderson was the CEO when the disaster occurred o Green revolutionUnion CarbideConnecticut based pesticide producersAmerican agribusiness food self sufficiency and industrial employment for Indias citiesUS helped India solve their food problems and keep them out of the communist camp Soviet Union y Complacency o Plant was placed in a highly populated area of India o Government and company officials were caught in a false sense of complacency and dismissed occasional warning signs of safety problems o Operation and maintenance costs were slashed o Old technology was exported to India oComplaints from unions and the print media regarding safety issues were not taken seriously o Indian officials who were part owners were also complicit in neglect of safety issues o Indian industrial regulations required that the plant be located 6 km away from human settlement y Corporate responses o The CEO Warren Andersen was arrested when he visited the plant after the incident in 1984 o Concerns about share prices were paramount o Company was caught unprepared o Sabotage theory about a worker deliberately spread by the company and Indian government to distract attention from their own role in the disaster o Concerns about Carbides West Virginia plant mountedIn 1985 there were leaks in Institute WVIncreasing evidence that Union Carbide was lax in it safety practices in the US too y Finger pointing o US kept pointing out that the incompetence of Indian regulation and policy had caused the disaster and claimed the Indian counts were ready to handle litigation they wanted to avoid US courts y Legal drama o 145 suits filed in various US courts claiming 100 billion dollars o American courts pointed out that the Indian judicial system was well equipped to handle litigation o Government wanted 3 billion but received 470 million in settlement o Warren Andersen was convicted and declared an absconder o Dow Chemicals took over Union Carbide in 2001 and rejected any responsibility to clean the site o By 2004 the officially recognized victims received 1000 o Many American lawyers pointed out that the Indian government had a conflict of interest as it policies may have contributed to the disasterCategorical Politics y Concerns the civil society organizations
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