Finalist in the 2010 Dark Side Case Writing Competition organized by Critical Management Studies Interest Group of the Academy of Management (AOM)

Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Revisited after Twenty-five Years

Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Revisited after Twenty-five Years
Case Code: BECG115
Case Length: 34 Pages
Period: 1984-2010
Pub Date: 2012
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Union Carbide Corporation, Dow Chemicals Company
Industry: Chemicals
Countries: India
Themes: Business Ethics, Corporate Accountability, Multinational Corporations in Transnational Accountability
Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Revisited after Twenty-five Years
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts

25 Years on... New Victims are Born Everyday

December 3, 2009, marked the 25th anniversary of the world's worst-ever industrial disaster - the deadly gas leak at the Bhopal-based pesticide plant of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL).

Tragedy struck on December 3, 1984, after water entered the Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) storage tank No. 610 at the plant. MIC is one of the deadliest gases produced in the chemical industry and is known to react violently when it comes into contact with water or metal dust.

What followed was a catastrophe that killed more than 3,000 people immediately and left thousands of people injured or affected for life. While the incident was horrendous in itself, what made it even worse was that its effects continued to be felt down the years by people living in the environs of the plant.

In the months, years, and decades that followed the disaster, thousands of survivors and their next generations suffered from ill health and multiple symptoms while their livelihood and future were severely affected. By the end of 2009, it was estimated that 25,000 had died and around 600,000 people were affected due to gas-related disorders.

Though the plant was shut down soon after the incident, the toxic remains at the factory left it in a state to create even more havoc with each passing day. Toxic chemicals lay in the vicinity and children who played near the site and livestock grazing on the ground were fully exposed to it. In addition to the surroundings, the walls of the UCIL plant and the roof remained covered with toxic materials which far exceeded safety standards.

Moreover, sacks of chemicals and pesticides lay scattered in a state of decomposition around the abandoned factory. Several metal boxes labeled 'Sevin' containing nitrate residues also remained at the plant. Some sources estimated that nearly 25,000 tons of contaminated material were present at the plant....

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