Bhopal Disaster Case Study /Ethics

Bhopal Disaster Case Study /Ethics-52
Union Carbide is able to continue operating the Bhopal Plant -- despite its deterioration -- due to the state of Madhya Pradesh and the Indian government not enforcing safety and environmental laws and regulations.One of the supervising technicians recently made you aware of the following problems: Due to cutbacks, most technicians at the plant are poorly trained and inexperienced and have little understanding of the system.

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The following fictitious scenarios are based on real events.

You are a design engineer at UCC headquarters and have worked on the design of safety systems of the Bhopal and West Virginia plants.

S, were available after the plant opened, but they were not incorporated at the Bhopal Plant.

Furthermore, there has been no attempt to follow up and implement the safety recommendations of the Operational Safety survey conducted by the UCC safety team in 1982.6 Instrumentation at the Bhopal plant is so unreliable that it is common for gas leaks of various types to be detected by workers reporting tearing and burning sensations in their eyes.7 When you informally approach management with this information, you are sternly rebuffed and told that the regulations of India do not dictate the same measures as those in the U. and economically, these safety upgrades are inconceivable at present.

Ethical issues arise from the lack of safety standards and maintenance procedures in Bhopal in comparison to the sister plant in Institute, West Virginia.

Increased risk posed by the establishment of a MIC production unit at the plant in 1980 and the concurrent establishment of slum colonies around the plant were never recognized by either UCIL or the Indian government.All of these issues have been formally reported, yet nothing has been done to inform the surrounding community. based Union Carbide Corporation is the parent company to UCIL.When you approached the general manager, he asserted that there were no regulations surrounding the communication of risk to the population and that morals had no place in economics. The technology for the plant was developed by UCC, who have maintained an overall supervisory role at the plant.Companies based in countries such as India offer cheap labor and low operating costs, but little incentive to promote environmental ethics, safety procedures and community investment.Firms typically find it more economically advantageous to avoid compliance and pay the penalties than to meet statutory safety or environmental requirements, if they exist.1 This case examines the December 1984 catastrophe at the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, in India.On December 3, 1984, just after midnight, the Bhopal agricultural pesticide plant released approximately 40 metric tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC)2 into the atmosphere, resulting in the death of as many as 3000 and injuries to thousands more.The plant was operated by Union Carbide of India, Limited (UCIL), a company controlled (via 50.9 percent stock ownership) by the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), an American chemical company.3 UCC provided the basic design of the plant, supervised its engineering and defined operating procedures to run it.4 Prior to the catastrophe, the Bhopal plant had been losing money for several years due to the weak demand in India for pesticides.This resulted in major personnel reductions, particularly in regard to production and maintenance.At the time of the accident, the plant had been shut down for over a month for a complete maintenance overhaul.5 Important safety devices were out of commission and staff with no MIC training were in supervisory roles.Other concerns include the lack of community information and emergency response procedures to deal with potential large-scale disasters.The positions of the governments of India and the U. and the reaction of Union Carbide are also evaluated on moral grounds.


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