Bhopal Disaster Discussion

Welcome to the first discussion about anything serious on Steel White Table. The topic of the Bhopal disaster was brought up by the right honourable Tommyboy. First off, let’s read some of the Wikipedia entry on the Bhopal disaster:

The Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) disaster — also known as the Bhopal disaster or the Bhopal gas tragedy — was an industrial catastrophe that took place at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on December 3, 1984. Around 12 AM, the plant released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other toxins, resulting in the exposure of over 500,000 people. Estimates vary on the death toll — the official immediate death toll was 2,259, which rose greatly over time. The government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Another source says that a few days later the death toll had doubled. Over the next few years, the lingering effects of the poison nearly doubled the toll again, to about 15,000, according to government estimates. Local activists say the real numbers are almost twice that. Others estimate 8,000-10,000 died within 72 hours and 25,000 have since died from gas-related diseases.

Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tonnes of toxic chemicals abandoned at the Union Carbide plant continue to leak and pollute the ground water in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents who depend on it, though there is some dispute as to whether the chemicals still stored at the site pose any continuing health hazard. There are currently civil and criminal cases related to the disaster ongoing in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India against Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemical Company, with arrest warrants pending against Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster. No one has yet been prosecuted.

Tommyboy said this (edited for coherency):

I was just reading this article on about the Bhophal Union Carbide disaster of the eighties. I remember when it happened being astounded at the loss of life (the same with Lake Nyos, the lake in Cameroon that gave off gas and killed many). I have often queried since 9/11 why we in the west did not have a “war on batteries.” I’ve always been curious about this.

Basically 4,000 people in India can be killed in an industrial accident as part of a conglomeration of companies that assist in making cheap stuff for us North Americans. While there is a flurry of recriminations, there appears to be no long term difficulties for those responsible. Yet, a couple planes bring down a couple of buildings and a conflict is entered into in the name of retribution and security, mobilizing nations against one another.

So I guess depending on where one lives, one’s life may not be worth or valued the same as others. 4,000 lives here are not worth the same as 3,000 there.

Just a thought as I was reading the story.


About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at

6 Replies to “Bhopal Disaster Discussion”

  1. I did state that my comment and conclusion was pendantic and cynical…please do not trash the cairn boys…

  2. Tiger Woods’ dick size has been the top story the past week. The above story is a pimple on the ass of our media.

    I read books like Peter Singer’s “The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty” to keep myself grounded in reality, with the glimmer of hope that I can make a difference. Or I take up water-colour painting, or maybe I’ll manage a farmer’s market someday. Some of us need to be selfish about our interests to keep ourselves sane, hopefully blocking the deluge of insanity spawned by media and the inanity of the masses.

    So there!

  3. Not watching televised news helps. I experience something close to culture shock when see CNN and other TV news broadcast. Most of it isn’t much better than “Entertainment Tonight.”

    Re: the Union Carbide disaster. “So I guess depending on where one lives, one’s life may not be worth or valued the same as others.” Correct. Not being white or rich didn’t help the people in Bhopal either.

  4. Pender made a good point about the issue of attacking a nation, but in a sense we atttack developing nations everyday…they provide a strut in the economic foundation from which we in the developed nations can live the king like existance many of us enjoy.

    Jode, athiest missionary gave me a copy of the Singer book about six months ago..I think he had correspondence with singer and arranged to have a copy delivered to every MP in Canada…yeah really….

    Reading it me feel shame that I have not pursed with greater vigor the efforts started at market in regards to the MAVAP program in Uganda..perhaps this year I will get it get non profit status I need to have a board of directors..I will put you down as computer expert and board member #2…I am going to be #1..I just need to find a white cat……

    I missed the whole tiger woods thing…just heard about it today at market..I mean I heard he was in a car accident but that was it….I love being busy and not having television or cable or satillite and only a rudimentary knowlege of this medium… truely I do…..

    I am unsure if being a market manager keeps one grounded but between that and the council gig most of my abit of activities involves things close to my community….

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