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Old November 17th, 2002, 03:31 PM
smartganduinuk's Avatar
smartganduinuk smartganduinuk is offline
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Bhopal Gas Tragedy

1. A History of Massacre
* Union Carbide started out as a carbon company in 1886 and diversified to
gases and chemicals during World War I.
*From the Manhattan project of World War II, until it relinquished its contract
in 1984, Union Carbide was a contractor to the US federal government's
nuclear weapons production.
*Before Bhopal, Union Carbide Corporation
caused the largest industrial disaster in the US. In the construction of
the Hawk's Nest Tunnel in West Virginia in 1934 nearly 2000 company
workers, most of them black, died of Silicosis - an occupational disease
caused by hazardous working conditions.
* At the Cimanggis plant in Indonesia at one point in 1978, 402 employees
(more than half the work force of 750), were suffering from kidney diseaes
attributable to workplace contamination according to the company's doctor
Dr.Maizar Syafei. She was asked by the company not to tell the workers that
there was mercury in their drinking water or else the workers "would become
anxious."
2. Union Carbide Corporation owned 50.9% shares in its Indian subsidiary
Union Carbide India Ltd. (UCIL). According to estimates made by The
Economic Times Research Bureau, by 1984 the dividend remittances by
UCIL to its parent company was more than the aggregate investment made by the
corporation in Bhopal since its inception in 1969. In addition to the dividends,
profits from the Indian subsidiary were funelled to the parent company as 'technical
service fee' for use of Union Carbide's technology, patents, trademarks as well as
continuous know how and safety audits.
3. Obsessed With the Bottomline As part of UCC's economy drive, the
management at the Bhopal plant had switched off the refrigeration unit
to save about Rs.700 (US $50) per day. Had the refrigeration unit been
working, a runaway reaction in the MIC tank could've been delayed or
even prevented. Experts prescribed fortnightly inspection of valves, pipes,
pumps, etc. and replacements every six months in plants dealing with
corrosive chemicals such as Methyl Isocyanate. At Carbide's Bhopal
plant, inspections were rare and replacements often not made for up to 2
years.
Also included in the cost cutting measures was the reduction in the
workforce in the Bhopal factory - brought down by half from 1980-84.
The work crew for the MIC plant was cut by half from 12 to 6 workers, the
maintenance crew in the same plant reduced from 6 to 2 workers. In the
control room, there was only 1 operator who was expected to monitor
70-odd panels, indicators and controllers on the console. The period of safety
training to workers in MIC plant was brought down from 6 months to 15
days.
4. Double Standards At the W Virginia plant all the vital systems had
back-ups and were automatically linked to computerised alarms and
crises control systems. The Bhopal plant not only lacked all the above but the
sole manual alarm was also switched off so as not to 'unduly' alarm
people.
5. All over Europe the maximum permissible storage limit for MIC is
half a ton. At the Bhopal plant, the US company's management overrode the
wishes of the managers of its Indian subsidiary and kept the storage capacity
hazardously high at over 90 tons. On the night of the disaster, 67 tons
of MIC were stored in two tanks.
6. The first time the management of the Carbide plant came to know
about the leak was at 11:00 pm. The factory alarm meant for workers was
started by a desperate worker at 12:50 pm. The management not only turned it
off within minutes but also delayed the sounding of the public siren until
as late as 2:00pm by which time all the gas that could leak had leaked.
7. Price of a life The first suit filed by Melvin Belli claimed
damages upto $15 billion. Later the Indian Government arrogating itself the
sole power to represent all the victims, filed a suit for upwards of $3
billion. 4 years after filing the suit and without informing the victims, the
government settled for a sum of $470 million, nearly one-seventh of
the original claim.
8. One Man's Poison Another Man's Profit After Bhopal, in the
financial manoeuvres that took place during the takeover battle of Union Carbide,
the company gave its shareholders a $33 bonus dividend plus $30 a share
from the sale of its battery business, and gave its top executives a total
of $28 million in "golden parachutes" to foil future takeover attempts.
After news of the $470 million settlement, Carbide's stock actually increased
$2 a share. The then chairman, Robert Kennedy who owned 35,000 shares in
the company, personally benefitted $70,000.
9. Marked down lives Union Carbide and eight other companies paid US
$ 4.2 billion as potential damages for Silicone Breast Implants to
650,000 claimants. This amount was 9 times more than what the Bhopal victims
were given. With global assests of US $ 5 billion, the company would have
gone bankrupt if it had to pay damages according to US laws. A quick look
at the Indian Railways schedule for compensation (Death Rs.2,00,000 and a
minimum of 40,000 for bodily injury), sharply contradicts Union
Carbide's claims that the compensation was "more than generous by Indian
standards. "
10. Long History of Violation Union Carbide is the first company in the
US to violate laws relating to providing information on chemicals used in
a facility. The company claimed Trade Secrecy Protection in refusing to
identify one of the key chemicals used in its plant at Henderson,
Kentucky. Using the same cover, UCC continues to withhold vital information about
the exact nature and composition of the leaked gases and its effects on the
human system. After 15 years, this is still one of the prime reasons
for the absence of a proper line of medical care for the victims.
11. In the year of the disaster UCC ranked 24th in terms of assets in
Fortune 500 being the 3rd largest chemical company in the US and the
7th largest in the world.
12. In May 1982 the Safety Audit team which reported directly to the
UCC headquarters in Danbury, stated in the inspection report of the Bhopal
plant that there were "a total of 61 hazards, 30 of them major and 11
of them in the dangerous Phosgene/Methy Isocyanate units." This report was
marked Business Confidential and only senior officials were privy to
its contents. The company was also forewarned of the possibility of a
runaway reaction involving a MIC storage tank 3 months prior to the Bhopal leak
by its Safety and Health Inspectors based in Institute W.Virginia. Had the
warnings in this report be heeded and the suggested action plan
implemented, the Bhopal disaster could've been averted. Union Carbide
did not send the report to the Bhopal plant.
13. Within the first week of the disaster 4 'medical experts' came to
Bhopal on a visit sponsored by UCC. In their interviews to the media,
they stated that the leaked gases would not have any long term health
effects on the exposed population. This was in sharp contrast to the subsequent
research findings. One of these experts was Brian Ballyentine, who was
also a toxicologist for the Pentagon. Another expert, Dr Hans Weil, Prof.
and Chairman of Pulmonary Medicine at the Tulane University Medical School,
New Orleans, has a history of fudging medical data to minimize liabilities
of Corporations (a prime example being that of Johns Manville Inc. in the
Asbestosis case), and had been reprimanded in the past by a US court
for his unethical conduct. He examined victims in Bhopal and said "they
have an encouraging prognosis and most would recover fully."
14. After the disaster Dr. Max Daunderer, a toxicologist from Munich,
demonstrated the efficacy of intravenous sodium thiosulphate injections
in detoxifying the exposed persons and providing substantial relief in
symptoms. This was further confirmed by studies carried out by the
Indian Council for Medical Research. Through helpful government officials,
UC succeeded in undermining official attempts for large scale
administration of sodium thiosulphate. The company was quick to realise that the
administration of this drug would establish that its toxins had indeed
reached the blood stream and caused much more damage than the company
would like people to believe.
15. 8000 people died in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. After
14 years, the death toll has risen to over 16,000 and in the 15th year
now, 10-15 people are dying every month from exposure related diseases and
their complications. Over 120,000 children, men and women continue to suffer
acutely from a host of exposure related illnesses and their
complications. Damage to the respiratory system has led to the prevalence of pulmonary
tuberculosis which has been found to be more than three times the
national average. In the years following the disaster ,the stillbirth rate was
three times, perinatal mortality was two times and neonatal mortality was one
and a half times more than the comparative national figures. According to a
study by Dr. Daya Varma, Mcgill University, Canada, 40% of the women
pregnant at the time of the disaster aborted. Another study reported
nearly five times increase in the rate of spontaneous abortion as a
result of the Union Carbide disaster.
16. Union Carbide's Toxic Legacy Nearly one-fifth of the exposed
population of 5,00,000 today suffers from a whole host of maladies like
lung fibrosis, impaired vision, bronchial asthma, TB, breathlessness,
loss of appetite, severe body pains, painful and irregular menstrual cycles,
recurrent fever, persistent cough, neurological disorders, fatigue,
weakness, anxiety and depression. Cancer and sterility are on the rise
according to doctors involved in the treatment of the survivors.
17. The worst part of the disaster is probably yet to come. Researchers
have found chromosomal aberrations in the exposed population indicating
a strong likelihood of congenital malformations in the generations to
come.
18. UCC described the settlement "fair and reasonable." In fact, it had
escaped extremely lightly. The settlement was but a 7th of the $3.3
billion that the Indian govt. had been demanding and less than a 10th of the $5
billion court award against Exon Valdez for polluting the Alaskan
coast. $200 million of the settlement was covered by UCC's insurance and
another $200 million had already been put aside. Out of an annual revenue of $8
billion a year, the corporation had to find just $70 million to close
the books on the worst industrial disaster in history.
19. On Dec. 7th 1984, Warren Anderson, Chairman UCC, and other Indian
officials were arrested on charges of culpable homicide, criminal
conspiracy and other serious offences. The arrested officials were
lodged in the posh guest house of Union Carbide and Warren Anderson with an
annual salary of Rs.10 million, was released on the same day on a bail of
Rs.20,000. Summons from the Bhopal court drew no response from him and
in January 1992 proclamations were published in Washington Post
directing Anderson to face trial in the Bhopal court. In March 1992 the Chief
Judicial Magistrate issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Warren
Anderson. He continues to abscond criminal justice and is known to be
in a beach house at Florida.
20. On the night of the disaster when people poured into hospitals by
thousands, their eyes and lungs in burning choking agony, and urine and
faeces running down their legs, the doctors called up the Plant Medical
Officer to find out what they ought to do. They were told that the gas
is like tear gas. "Just wash with water." J.Mukund, the Works Manager and
Jackson B Browning, Director of Health, Safety and Environmental
Affairs, Union Carbide Corporations, continued to refer to the poisonous
chemicals that had till that date, killed over 8000 people, as "nothing more than
a potent tear gas."
21. Operation Faith There were about 15 tons of MIC left behind in the
tank after the leak. Survivors and independent professionals suggested that
this remaining material be neturalised. Starting on Dec. 16th 1984, Union
Carbide, with the help of the State Government, began utilising this
MIC for production . As a result of this decision, over 400,000 people left
the city in a panic and many stayed away for over a month.
-----------------------------------------
For updated information on current issues
of the Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal:
<http://www.bhopal.net>
<http://www.bhopal.org>
-----------------------------------------

So many people have taken advantage of this tragedy. Do you think the criminals shud be brought to justice ? If so, who is gonna bring them to justice. If it wud have been for jews, there surely wud be one of the organisations, who would bring the criminal to justice. So many german world war leaders were hunted across the globe and brought to justice. I think its time for some Indian organisation to take active steps towards this rather than create communal disharmony in India.
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  #2  
Old November 18th, 2002, 01:34 AM
vakil sahib's Avatar
vakil sahib vakil sahib is offline
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Posts: 5,225
vakil sahib is a jewel in the roughvakil sahib is a jewel in the roughvakil sahib is a jewel in the roughvakil sahib is a jewel in the rough
after all these years there is no hope for justice in this case.
the greed of the indian authorities and the double standards of the US both are both at work here to ensure that this huge tragedy will go unpunished and largely uncompensated
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  #3  
Old November 18th, 2002, 06:49 AM
nayasavera
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1. the money never reached the right people.. most of the loss was taken by the people in the 20 km radius.. but the claims were made by those who were not even the residents of bhopal at the time of tragedy.. people from cities as far as 300-400 km from bhopal claimed losses and got money..
2. the official number of deaths is something around 800, whereas the people who witnessed the tragedy claim that nearly 5000 people died on the day of leakage itself.. this was reported in several local dailies but the figure used by the govt. for the settlement with UC was much lower..
3. it is more of a political issue now.. MPs, MLAs, Corporators.. all try to get the voters of their constituencies/wards added to the list of victims.. there r several gas raahat morchas making big money and participating in political rallies with their supporters faking as gas victims.. the real victims can still be spotted coughing and throwing blood on the floors of hamidia hospital..

what a shame !!! even after 16 years of the tragedy the govt. is not yet thru with the relief work..

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