Bhopal

December 3 1984

Basic Overview

On December 3 1984, the Union Carbide Corporation(UCC) plant in Bhopal had a technical error that let one ton of water mix with forty tons of methyl isocyanate(MIC), a component in Sevin, a powerful pesticide. The combination of water and MIC caused a exothermic reaction which ultimately led to a MIC gas cloud covering the city of Bhopal and killing three to four thousand instantly, with ten to twenty thousand premature fatalities. The UCC paid $470 million in compensation, roughly $2,200 for the families of the dead, a low amount.

MIC or HCN?

When MIC is heated above 200 degrees it turns into hydrogen cyanide(HCN). This should have been prevented by a refrigerator unit but the liquid coolant was drained for use elsewhere. HCN is much more deadly than MIC. Victims had symptoms of cyanide poisoning and responded to sodium thoisulfate, a treatment for HCN but not MIC. The UCC has, however, claimed that only MIC leaked with no HCN whatsoever.

What went wrong

The Bhopal plant was originally meant to be a limited toxic plant, meaning that very little toxins should be produced at the plant and was mostly meant to mix pre compounded chemicals. But by 1984, 40 tons or more of raw MIC was being stored. MIC should never be mixed with water and a broken valve sent one tons worth into a

tank of MIC. Almost all of the safety devices, such as vent -gas scrubbers and gas flares, were turned off or not working. The people of Bhopal's only warning was when

their started to burn. Almost everything that could go wrong did.


Injures from MIC exposure

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Did you know?

Dow Chemicals, the company that bought UCC, was the biggest sponsor for the 2012 Olympic games.


"In December, a gas leak at a plant in Bhopal, India, caused by an act of sabotage, results in tragic loss of life," is what www.unioncarbide.com/history says about what happened in Bhopal.

work sited

BCC News India. British Broadcasting Corporation. February 16 ,2012 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17054672>


Union Carbine History. Dow Chemical Company. 2012 <http://www.unioncarbide.com/history>


Edward Broughton. Environ Health. May 10, 2005 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1142333/>