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Bhopal Gas Tragedy : Causes, effects and aftermath

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The Bhopal gas tragedy occurred at midnight of December 2nd- 3rd December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) pesticide facility in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. This catastrophe affected around 500,000 people along with many animals. People who were exposed are still suffering as a result of the gas leak’s long-term health impacts. Chronic eye difficulties and respiratory problems were some issues due to it. Children who have been exposed have stunted growth and cognitive impairments. 

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Union Carbide was an American company that produced pesticides. MIC – methyl isocyanide, a dangerous poisonous gas began to leak at midnight on 2nd December 1984 from the Union Carbide factory. This MIC caused the Bhopal gas tragedy. The Bhopal gas tragedy was a fatal accident. It was one of the world’s worst industrial accidents. 

Date of Bhopal Gas Tragedy 3rd December 1984
Company Name Union Carbide India Limited
Location Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
Gas Leaked MIC (Methyl Isocyanate)


UCIL was a pesticide manufacturing plant that produced the insecticide carbaryl. Carbaryl was discovered by the American company Union Carbide Corporation, which owned a significant share in UCIL. As an intermediary, UCIL produced carbaryl using methyl isocyanate (MIC). Other techniques for producing the ultimate product are available, but they are more expensive. The very toxic chemical MIC is extremely dangerous to human health. Residents of Bhopal in the area of the pesticide plant began to feel irritated by the MIC and began fleeing the city.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case Study

Bhopal UCIL constructed three underground MIC storage tanks which were named E610, E611, and E619. On October 1984, E610 was not able to maintain its nitrogen gas pressure and so the liquid which is present inside the tank would not pump out, because of which 42 tons of MIC in E610 was wasted. The chemical in E610 was left unpumped as they were not able to re-establish its pressure, which later became responsible for Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Causes of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The main causes of Bhopal Gas Tragedy are as follows:

  1. During the buildup to the spill, the plant’s safety mechanisms for the highly toxic MIC were not working. The alarm off tanks of the plant had not worked properly.
  2. Many valves and lines were in disrepair, and many vent gas scrubbers were not working, as was the steam boiler that was supposed to clean the pipes.
  3. The MIC was stored in three tanks, with tank E610 being the source of the leak. This tank should have held no more than 30 tonnes of MIC, according to safety regulations.
  4. Water is believed to have entered the tank through a side pipe as technicians were attempting to clear it late that fatal night.
  5. This resulted in an exothermic reaction in the tank, progressively raising the pressure until the gas was ejected through the atmosphere.

Effects of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The main effects of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy are as follows:

  1. Thousands had died as a result of choking, pulmonary edema, and reflexogenic circulatory collapse.
  2. Neonatal death rates increased by 200 percent.
  3. A huge number of animal carcasses have been discovered in the area, indicating the impact on flora and animals. The trees died after a few days. Food supplies have grown scarce due to the fear of contamination. 
  4. Fishing was also prohibited.
  5. In March 1985, the Indian government established the Bhopal Gas Leak Accident Act, giving it legal authority to represent all victims of the accident, whether they were in India or abroad.
  6. At least 200,000 youngsters were exposed to the gas.
  7. Hospitals were overcrowded, and there was no sufficient training for medical workers to deal with MIC exposure.

Aftermath of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

In the United States, UCC was sued in federal court. In one action, the court recommended that UCC pay between $5 million and $10 million to assist the victims. UCC agreed to pay a $5 million settlement. The Indian government, however, rejected this offer and claimed $3.3 billion. In 1989, UCC agreed to pay $470 million in damages and paid the cash immediately in an out-of-court settlement.

Warren Anderson, the CEO and Chairman of UCC was charged with manslaughter by Bhopal authorities in 1991. He refused to appear in court and the Bhopal court declared him a fugitive from justice in February 1992. Despite the central government’s efforts in the United States to extradite Anderson, nothing happened. Anderson died in 2014 without ever appearing in a court of law.


Bhopal Gas Tragedy continues to be an important warning sign for industrialization, for developing countries and in particular India, with human, environmental, and economic pitfalls. The economy of India is growing at a fast rate but at the cost of environmental health as well as public safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

What were the reasons behind Bhopal gas tragedy?

The reasons behind Bhopal gas tragedy was a large volume of water had been introduced into the MIC tank and has caused a chemical reaction which did force the pressure release valve, which allowed the gas to leak.

What is the name of Bhopal gas case law?

The name is Union Carbide Corporation v.

Which gas was leaked in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy?

The gas which was leaked in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy is methyl isocyanate.

Was Bhopal gas tragedy an accident or experiment?

Bhopal gas tragedy was the world’s most worst industrial accident.

How many people died in the Bhopal Gas?

A total of 3,787 deaths were registered related to the gas release in case of Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

What were the four main demands of the Bhopal Gas victims?

The 4 demands of Bhopal Gas victims include:

  1. Proper medical treatment.
  2. Adequate compensation.
  3. Fixation of criminal responsibility
  4. Steps for prevention of such disasters in future.

How was Bhopal Gas Tragedy fixed?

Bhopal Gas Tragedy was fixed with construction of a secure landfill for holding the wastes from the two on-site solar evaporation ponds.

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Last Updated : 18 Oct, 2023
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