Bhopal Gas Tragedy Information
In the early hours of December 3,1984, methylisocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from a plant owned, managed and operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in the central India city of Bhopal. According to government figures, approximately 5,200 people died and several thousand other individuals suffered permanent or partial disabilities Click here to view the 2006 affidavit of the Union of India in the Supreme Court.
A great deal has been written and/or broadcast about the tragedy in the ensuing years, some of it factual, but much of it inaccurate or misleading.
Union Carbide Statement Regarding The Tragedy
The 1984 gas leak in Bhopal was a terrible tragedy that continues to evoke strong emotions even 36 years later. In the wake of the gas release, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and its then-chairman Warren Anderson worked diligently to provide aid to the victims and attempted to set up a process to resolve their claims. All claims arising out of the release were settled in 1989 at the explicit direction and with the approval of the Supreme Court of India by means of a settlement agreement between the Government of India (GOI) and UCC and UCIL. In 1991, and again in 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the fairness and adequacy of the settlement in response to court challenges from non-governmental organizations.
The Bhopal plant was owned and operated by UCIL, an Indian company in which UCC held just over half the stock. Other stockholders included Indian financial institutions and thousands of private investors in India. UCIL designed, built, managed and operated the plant using Indian consultants and workers. In 1994, UCC sold its entire stake in UCIL to Mcleod Russel India Limited of Calcutta, and UCIL was renamed Eveready Industries India Limited (EIIL). As a result of the sale of its shares in UCIL, UCC retained no interest in the Bhopal site. With the approval of the India Supreme Court, the proceeds of the UCIL sale were placed in a trust used exclusively to fund a hospital in Bhopal to provide specialist care to victims of the tragedy.
Because the government closed off the site from any and all operations following the gas release, UCIL was only able to undertake clean-up work in the years just prior to the UCC's sale of its stock in 1994, and spent some $2 million on that effort. The central and state government authorities approved, monitored and directed every step of the clean-up work. Following the sale, we understand that EIIL continued some clean-up work. In 1998, the Madhya Pradesh State Government (MPSG), which owned and had been leasing the property to EIIL -- and still owns the property today -- cancelled EIIL's lease, took over the facility and assumed all accountability for the site, including the completion of any additional remediation. A trial incineration of some waste from the Bhopal plant site was conducted in August 2015. For additional information, please see the page on this site entitled "Remediation (Clean Up) of the Bhopal Plant Site." Specific questions regarding that work, or any other site remediation work, are best directed to Madhya Pradesh State Government and/or the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Late in 1986, Union Carbide filed a lengthy court document in India detailing the findings of its scientific and legal investigations into the cause of the gas release. Click here to view the Jackson Browning Report.
Engineering consulting firm, Arthur D. Little, Inc., conducted a thorough investigation and reached the same conclusion. Click here to view the Arthur D. Little Report.
Please see "Cause of the Bhopal Tragedy" pages on this website for complete details.
Together with the rest of the chemical industry, Union Carbide has worked to develop and globally implement Responsible Care® to help prevent such an event in the future by improving process safety standards, community awareness and emergency preparedness, as well as protecting workers and communities by working with governmental bodies to assure that industry best practices are implemented through regulations.
For more information about Responsible Care®, see www.responsiblecare.com or www.icca-chem.org.
Union Carbide's Response Efforts to the Tragedy and the Settlement
In the wake of the release, UCC publicly accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy. Details may be found here on the immediate aid Union Carbide provided to the victims.
Cause of the Bhopal Tragedy
Details may be found here on Union Carbide's investigation into the tragedy.
History of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL)
UCIL was a diversified manufacturing company incorporated in 1934. For details on its 60-year history, please see these pages.
Bhopal Plant History and Ownership
Details on the plant's history and the roles that the Madhya Pradesh State Government (MPSG) and the India central government played in its development and operations may be found here.
Remediation (Clean Up) of the Bhopal Plant Site
Details about what remediation UCIL was able to perform and when that work was done, as well as any work undertaken since the MPSG took control of the site in 1998, may be found here.
Bhopal Litigation in the U.S.
American personal injury lawyers who had gone to Bhopal brought civil litigation in the U.S. against UCC within days of the disaster. Information on that civil litigation, as well as on the class action lawsuits subsequently filed, may be found here.
Bhopal Litigation in India
Information on the civil and criminal litigation, as well as on the GOI's curative petition and the Public Interest Litigation, may be found here.
Environmental Studies of the Bhopal Plant Site
The Bhopal plant closed after the 1984 methylisocyanate (MIC) gas release and never resumed normal operations. A chronological overview of the various studies undertaken up until 1998, when the MPSG took control of the site, may be found here.
Reports, Studies, UCC Opinions and Court Decisions
Research reports and court rulings that provide additional information and insight with regard to the tragedy in Bhopal, India, may be found here.
Contact Information for Bhopal Information Center
Details on how to contact the Bhopal Information Center appear on this page.
Responsible Care® is a registered service mark of the American Chemistry Council, Inc.