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Bhopal Industrial Chemical Accident


As the world’s industrialization advances and the world’s population rises, the chemical industry is growing in importance, and chemical plant disasters are becoming more often. Due to the fact that most of the raw chemicals used are combustible, toxic, explosive, and destructible, the chemical plants have become a dangerous place for safety incidents. In the industrialized world, chemical plant explosions are among the most deadly disasters that may take place. Natural disasters may be the root cause, but more often the underlying cause is the result of other preventable situations. One of the most common causes of chemical plant accidents is the breakdown of a defective product, such as a safety valve or a warning system. The Bhopal gas incident is one of the largest chemical plant accident in history. The chemical plant released roughly 25 tons of methyl isocyanate, a toxic gas that is fatal if inhaled. The disaster also released a range of other dangerous chemicals. As a result of the pesticide factory being surrounded by shantytowns, more than 500,500 people were exposed to the fatal chemical cloud. The gases persisted close to the surface of the soil, causing burns to the eyes and throats, illness, and a large number of deaths. Many of the women exposed to the toxic gas gave birth to children who are still suffering from physical and psychological effects 30 years after the incident. Using the information gathered from the risk table, this analysis will examine the Bhopal Industrial Chemical Accident.


On 2nd December, 1984, at the UCIL pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, a gas leak occurred, resulting in one of the biggest chemical plant disasters in the world. According to reports by the Indian government, each of the tanks in the factory could only carry a maximum of 30 tons of liquid MIC at one time. But the tank that leaked the gas weighed 42 tons. Because of this issue, UCIL was forced to cease manufacturing methyl isocyanate at Bhopal, and the plant was forced to close for a period of time (Basha, Alajmy & Newaz, 2020). According to reports, water had entered the faulty tank by the night of December 2nd, causing a chemical reaction to spiral out of control. By nightfall, the tank’s pressure had increased by a factor of five. According to the witnesses, the MIC gas started to have an impact on workers in the MIC zone about midnight. The choice to repair the leak had to be taken just a few minutes after that. The chemical reaction in the tank, on the other hand, had already reached a critical stage at that moment. After just one hour, about 30 tons of MIC had spilled out of the tank and into the surrounding environment. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, doctors were completely uninformed of the therapeutic procedures that were required. More than 15,000 people perished from the incident, and more than 600,000 people were directly affected by the accident. Since the accident, there has been an increase in the incidence of stillbirth and neonatal mortality by as much as 200 percent and 100 percent, respectively.


Two major hazards arise from the Bhopal gas tragedy: methyl isocyanate gas poisoning and toxic release.

  • Methyl isocyanate gas poisoning

Methyl isocyanate is a colorless, poisonous, and flammable gas that arises from the reaction of phosgene with monomethyl amine. Methylene isocyanate is very toxic and has no known antidote, making it extremely dangerous. Even at low quantities of about 0.3 ppm, ingestion, inhalation, and contact with MIC can be catastrophic. Coughing, chest pain, asthma, nasal, eye, and throat irritation, as well as skin damage, are all signs of exposure. Exposure levels more than 20 ppm may result in pulmonary or lung edema, hemorrhages, and death (Raghunandan & Jayaprakash, 2020). Because the Bhopal gas disaster continued for such a long period of time, the consequences were severe for some victims: some died almost instantly after contact. In addition to chronic conjunctivitis and cognitive impairment, methyl isocyanate gas may also cause numbness and posttraumatic stress disorder.

  • Toxic release

As a result of the creation of gases, the accumulation of heat, and the reaction, a chemical plant accident can release toxic compounds that are harmful to people, animals, and plants. As a result, there may be significant plant degradation as well as potentially catastrophic property damage, which may have long-term effects for the local people. This was evident in the Bhopal gas catastrophe, which occurred when a lethal gas cloud rose in the surrounding area. It’s very probable that dichloromethane, chloroform, hydrogen chloride, dimethylamine, and carbon dioxide were present in the gas cloud, or that they were formed in the storage tank as a result of the interaction between MIC, chloroform, and water. The gas cloud, which was mostly composed of heavier components than air, stayed close to the ground and proceeded southeast, causing damage to nearby towns and infrastructure. Chemical activities also resulted in the formation of a liquid or solid mist, which had a profound impact on iron sheets and plants in general (Gour, 2018). As a result of the toxic leak, trees in the area were rendered barren. Provisions, notably in the area of food, were restricted due to supplier safety concerns. Fishing was made illegal, which resulted in even greater supply shortages.

Evaluation of the risk table

  • Common

Communities develop mitigation plans with the purpose of identifying, analyzing, and minimizing the long-term risk of loss of life and property as a result of hazard occurrences. Efficacious disaster mitigation planning has the potential to break the cycle of catastrophe destruction and rebuilding that leads to recurrence of harm. Prior planning is essential in the case of any of the two identified hazards in order to guarantee that emergency response teams are equipped with the necessary equipment and expertise. When it comes to public information and warnings in the event of a chemical plant disaster, notifying local populations about the possible hazards and consequences is crucial in order to guarantee that they are appropriately prepared to deal with the situation (Rajeev et al., 2019). In the field of emergency management, the relationship between knowledge and power has crucial significance. In an emergency situation, those who have access to essential information ahead of time are more likely to respond accurately and effectively than others. The dissemination of public knowledge and warning in the case of a gas catastrophe such as the one that occurred in Bhopal would allow residents to get adequate protective equipment such as gas masks and keep a safe distance from the facility.

  • Prevention and protection

When a chemical plant accident occurs, intelligence and information exchange are important throughout the whole operation. The collection, analysis, and distribution of intelligence may provide critical decision-making information to the incident response and recovery command and general staff during a disaster.

  • Protection

Chemical plant incidents need the deployment of physical safety measures because they safeguard first responders from inhaling dangerous chemicals. The purpose of disaster prevention is to reduce the chance of sustaining further complications or deaths. While risk cannot be completely removed, vulnerability may be lowered, and the capacity to withstand, respond, and recover in the case of a hit can be improved. Gas masks, for example, may prevent first responders from breathing potentially hazardous gasses during an emergency situation (Rebeeh et al., 2019). When disasters or crises strike, risk management for protection programs and activities ensures the livelihoods of those who are most vulnerable to the consequences. Regardless of whether a disaster is created by humans or by nature, it has a smaller impact on those who are most susceptible. Victims of the Bhopal gas catastrophe who inhaled the dangerous gas and later hospitalized might have benefited from the implementation of a risk management program.

  • Mitigation

Concerning the hazards and threats in the Bhopal gas catastrophe, the hazards included methyl isocyanate gas poisoning and toxic release. In order to properly grasp the risks, communities must identify and pick the threats and hazards that have the biggest influence on their communities. Building community resilience is advantageous in the case of a chemical plant accident, both for disaster planners and for the people who live in the town. Community resilience goes beyond standard readiness by pushing for efforts to increase preparedness while also creating resilient community components and addressing the various factors that impact health. Increasing resilient capabilities would have allowed for greater foresight of the chemical plant and better planning to limit possible deaths and further repercussions.

  • Response

Rescue and evacuation activities at a chemical plant are dependent on the transportation mode to be successful. This includes everything from transporting rescuers to the scene to transporting the ill and injured to medical facilities. In order to guarantee effective disaster management, it is necessary to properly use air transportation. Death and injury management services are especially important in a chemical plant disaster because they enable collaboration with other agencies to ensure appropriate recovery, identification, transportation and tracking of human remains and personal belongings, as well as proper disposal of human remains and personal belongings (Chen, Wood & Zhao, 2019). In the case of a chemical plant disaster, mass care services are also essential for meeting the public health, emotional, medical, and behavioral health needs of those who have been affected by the disaster.

Both public and private services and resources must work together to reduce further losses caused by the chemical plant accident. Partners from both the public and private sectors may cooperate in order to incorporate the risks, vulnerabilities, and capabilities of their respective enterprises into joint strategic planning initiatives. In the case of a disaster, the collaborative planning strategy may assist the public and private sectors in coordinating their efforts and resources to minimize damage. Performing a situation analysis in the chemical plant accident is necessary in order to gather critical information that will guide emergency responders in activities such as rescue missions, identifying the nature of threats, and determining the status of facilities that will be required to assist victims and survivors.

  • Recovery

In the aftermath of a chemical plant accident, health services assist people and communities in strengthening their capabilities and resistance to hazards, as well as minimizing the impact of adversity on the general public as well as the most vulnerable groups, coping with adversity, and recovering from it. Because they provide grief counseling, emotional support, and post-disaster assistance to vulnerable groups and the general public as a whole.


Explosions at chemical plants have far-reaching consequences for both the workers and the surrounding populations. 38 years after the Bhopal Industrial Chemical Accident, the ramifications of one of history’s most infamous industrial disasters, the Bhopal Industrial Chemical Accident, are still being investigated and studied. While not every plant explosion constitutes a nuclear hazard, chemical plant leaks and explosions do offer significant health risks to people who are exposed to the toxins released. Whilst there have been some positive developments in industry behavior and environmental policy, the environment is still endangered by the poorly managed rise of industrial activity. Environmental degradation is happening on a broad scale across India, with significant negative consequences for human health as a result. Managers at chemical plants and other associated departments must set suitable management principles, develop comprehensive emergency plans, and react strategically in the event of a disaster. The most successful technique should be able to blend the strengths of the factory with the approaches used in certain situations.


Basha, O., Alajmy, J., & Newaz, T. (2020). Bhopal gas Tragedy: A safety case study.

Chen, Q., Wood, M., & Zhao, J. (2019). Case study of the Tianjin accident: Application of barrier and systems analysis to understand challenges to industry loss prevention in emerging economies. Process Safety and Environmental Protection131, 178-188.

Gour, S. (2018). Classifying the Incidence Rates of Cancers Using Data Mining Techniques (Perspective to Gas Leakage Accident of Bhopal City). International Journal of Computer Science and Engineering6, 95-100.

Raghunandan, D., & Jayaprakash, N. D. (2020). Bhopal gas disaster: Delhi science forum and people’s science movement in india-in memory of Dr. Amit Sengupta. Saúde em Debate44, 120-134.

Rajeev, K., Soman, S., Renjith, V. R., & George, P. (2019). Human vulnerability mapping of chemical accidents in major industrial units in Kerala, India for better disaster mitigation. International journal of disaster risk reduction39, 101247.

Rebeeh, Y. A., Pokharel, S., Abdella, G. M., & Hammuda, A. S. (2019). Disaster management in industrial areas: Perspectives, challenges and future research. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management12(1), 133-153.


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