Bhopal Gas Tragedy: All you need to know
Bhopal Gas Tragedy is also known as the Bhopal Disaster in which thousands of people lost their lives. It is considered the world's worst industrial disaster. It occurred on the cold wintry night in the early hours of 3 December, 1984.
At around midnight, the chemical reaction started in the Union Carbide (India) Limited factory that culminated in the leakage of deadly Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas from one of the tanks of the factory. As a result, a cloud of gas gradually started descending and enveloping the city in its lethal folds. And the city and lakes turned into a gas chamber.
What happened after the leakage of gas?
In the tragedy around 3000 lives of innocent people were lost and thousands and thousands of people were physically impaired or affected in several forms. Life stock were killed, injured and infected. Businesses were interrupted. Lives of people were affected. The environment becomes polluted, ecology affected, flora and fauna got disturbed.
It was estimated that 40 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) gas leakage took place with some other toxic chemicals from the Union Carbide Factory. Do you know that if the concentration of the toxic gas in the air touches 21 ppm (parts per million) then after inhaling it can cause death within minutes and during Bhopal gas tragedy the level was multiple times higher?
How MIC leakage took place?
As per official data, the leakage of the MIC took place from the Plant Number C. For cooling the plant, methyl isocyanate gas was mixed with water. It led to the generation of volumes of gases and as a result, put tremendous pressure on tank Number 610. Finally, the pressure of the gas increases and released tonnes of the poisonous gas and diffused a large number of areas. It is said that approximately 5 lakhs people were exposed to the leakage of MIC.
Now let us read what happened after leakage?
In 1984 approximately Bhopal had a population of about 8.5 lakhs and more than half of the population on the morning after a leakage at midnight were coughing, complaining about itchiness in eyes, skin and were facing breathing problems. Some people suffered from pneumonia, internal haemorrhage, and death. Even, the people living in villages and slums in the neighbouring areas were affected most.
The situation becomes worst because for several hours the alarm system of the Union Carbide factory does not work. It was not raised by the factory managers. On 3rd December, morning thousands of people were running hospitals with several different types of complaints.
At that time, Bhopal does not have many hospitals that can accommodate half of the city population. People were not able to breathe, were suffering and yes they were in a confusing state also that what is happening with them and why. Also, doctors were confused, what happened suddenly that people are facing so many difficulties.
According to the reports, people were suffering from dizziness, breathlessness, skin irritation, rashes, and sudden blindness, etc. Doctors in Bhopal have not faced a situation like this. They had no experience in dealing with the industrial disaster. Doctors were not aware of the symptoms of MIC exposure. It was reported that two government hospitals of Bhopal treated approximately 50,000 patients in two days after the MIC leakage.
The lungs, brain, eyes, muscles as well as gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive and immune systems of those who survived were severely affected. Dead bodies of humans and animals blocked the street, leaves of the plant turned black and the smell of burning chilli peppers lingered in the air.
With the miscarriage, the growing foetus was damaged and affected fertility in men and women. After a long time of the disaster, traces of several toxins were found in the breast milk of mothers and were transmitted to the babies. People won't be able to work due to which the economy suffered. People were left with no money and were not able to fulfil their basic necessities.
What is Methyl isocyanate?
Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) is a chemical that is used in the manufacture of polyurethane foam, pesticides, and plastics. It is handled in liquid form which can be easily burned and explosive. It evaporates quickly in the air and has a strong odour. Its molecular formula is CH3NCO or C2H3NO and its molecular weight is approx. 57.05 g/mol. It is used in the production of pesticides, polyurethane foam, and plastics.
So, now you may have come to know about the Bhopal gas tragedy and its aftermath.