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Madhya Pradesh

Fire at Union Carbide Factory

  • 25 May 2024
  • 2 min read

Why in News?

Recently, a massive fire broke out at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. The factory is where methyl isocyanate gas leaked in 1984, killing thousands of people and disabling millions.

Key Points

  • The fire was brought under control after about an hour. Its cause is yet to be ascertained.
  • The locals expressed their fear about the potential effects of toxic smoke on their bodies.
  • The factory was shut down after the 1984 gas tragedy.

Bhopal gas tragedy

  • About:
    • The Bhopal gas tragedy was one of the worst industrial accidents in history that occurred on the night of 2-3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, MP.
    • It exposed people and animals to the highly toxic gas methyl isocyanate (MIC), causing immediate and long-term health effects and deaths.
  • Causes of Gas Leak:
    • The exact cause of the gas leak is still disputed between corporate negligence or employee sabotage. However, some of the factors that contributed to the disaster are:
      • The UCIL plant was storing large quantities of MIC, a highly reactive and volatile chemical, in poorly maintained tanks.
      • The plant was operating with reduced staff and safety standards due to financial losses and market competition.
      • The plant was located in a densely populated area with no proper emergency plans or warning systems for the nearby residents.
      • On the night of the disaster, a large amount of water entered one of the MIC storage tanks (E610), either due to a faulty valve or a deliberate act of sabotage by a disgruntled worker.
        • This triggered an exothermic reaction that increased the temperature and pressure inside the tank, causing it to rupture and release a large cloud of MIC gas into the atmosphere.
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