The Bhopal Disaster

By Colleen Larsen and Olivia Fowler

One of the Worst Industrial Accidents in History

On December 3, 1984 over 45 tons of Methyl Isocyanate was excreted from an insecticide plant named Union Carbide Corporations which was an Indian Subsidiary of an American Company. When the gas leaked it drifted over the densely populated slums in Bhopal Madhya Pradesh state, India. It caused mass hysteria in the area as thousands of people were killed immediately and thousands more tried desperately to flee. The final toll was between 15,000 and 20,000.

Health Effects

Thousands of people died and those who survived suffered major health problems like respiratory problems, eye irritation, blindness, and many others from the exposure to Methyl Isocyanate. Even over 30 years later the drinking water and soil is still contaminated and is the suspected cause for the chronic health problems and high rates of birth defects in the area.

Environmental Effects

Immediately after the gas leak, the leaves on the trees surrounding the Union Carbide factory turned yellow and began falling off the trees. Also, around 2,000 animals were killed. Most of the animals killed were livestock such as buffalo, goats, and cattle. The main long-term effects on the environment come from the inadequate cleanup attempt of the leakage, which has left the water supplies in Bhopal completely contaminated and toxic.

Clean Up

UCIL did some cleanup work before the sale of its stock in 1994. They spent 2 million dollars on the effort. And began construction on a secure landfill to hold waste as well as two solar evaporation ponds. After the sale the new owners Eveready Industries India Limited (EIIL) took over the cleanup and finished the construction of the landfill. In 1998 the Madhya Pradish State Government took over the site and cancelled EIIL lease. Since then the cleanup efforts have slowed to a trickle. Over 400 tons of industrial waste are still present on the site. Sparking decades of protest among the survivors and many other.

Current Conditions

The current environment is still heavily polluted and not up to human health standards. The ground water as well as the soil are still not at safe levels.Due to the remaining contamination in 2004 the India Supreme Court mandated that the State provide its residents with clean drinking water due to the contamination, but whether or not this was provided remains to be seen. The environment is still contaminated and the ecosystems of Bhopal have yet to fully return to normal.

Work Cited

Bhopal disaster: Industrial accident. (2015, November 22). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from Encyclopedia Britanica website:

Bhopal Gas Tragedy Information. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from Union Carbide Corporation website:

Remediation (Clean Up) of the Bhopal Plant Site. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from Union Carbide Corporation website:

Sim, D. (2014, December 1). Bhopal gas tragedy: 30 years on from the world's worst industrial disaster [photo report]. Retrieved December 7, 2015, from IBTimes website: