The Watering Hole: December 3 – Bhopal

This is our open thread. Please feel free to offer your own comments on any topic.

It is 25 years ago today that a deadly cloud of chemicals swept over the Indian town of Bhopal killing 3’787 people and injuring many many more. People are dying and suffering from the gas leak ever since.

The late 70’s and early 80’s were a time when governments really had got into environment protection legislation. I perfectly remember the howls of the chemical industries, how all those restraints would ruin their business and how they would send all those jobs to other countries where legislation wasn’t as crippling.  I was hanging around with hubby’s crowd then, all Chemistry students, and being pro environmental protections I got an earful, believe me.

When you get down to the reasons for the disaster, you will find not much has really changed and there are many Bhopals out there still waiting to happen.

Factors leading to this huge gas leak include:

  • The use of hazardous chemicals (MIC) instead of less dangerous ones
  • Storing these chemicals in large tanks instead of over 200 steel drums.
  • Possible corroding material in pipelines
  • Poor maintenance after the plant ceased production in the early 1980s
  • Failure of several safety systems (due to poor maintenance and regulations).
  • Safety systems shut down to save money – including the MIC tank refrigeration system which alone would have prevented the disaster. (read all)

If the environmental standards are going to be lowered in the light of the economic crisis – and they mostly are, along with worker’s rights – the next Bhopal may well be in our own backyard. What’s more, Chernobyl and the Sandoz spill show us that this planet is all we’ve got. Poisoning it will hit us all. You can find a list of other environmental disasters here.

10 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: December 3 – Bhopal

  1. Hi Zooey, bye Zooey! Have fun at school!

    I am invited to dinner tonight, a welcome change to be honest, and will be around for a bit tomorrow and if everything goes according to plan (have you heard that one before?) a little more from Monday. I am really busily trying to tie all the loose ends left, but my karma surely has another surprise in the making for me ** deep sigh**

    Have fun All!

  2. Another example of ‘corporate personhood’ screwing the ordinary person, this time 10s of thousands of Indians who had life tough enough as it was. The estimate now is that 1/2 a *million* people have been impacted by this act of criminal negligence for which no one has been rbought to account. Carbide paid $70m for cleanup in 1989

    Dow didn’t get any sanction as they were not involved in the Bhopal incident at all. It preceded their acquisition of Union Carbide in 1999 by 15 years. It was a Union Carbide plant that released the deadly gas. The Indian government took over Carbide India and now owns the land, so Dow is off the hook. Just like Exxon Valdez where they told the Inuit that all they needed to do was ‘wait for them to die of old age’ rather than pay up.

    Globalization – a race to the bottom, not just for workers wages, but for safety conditions, environmental regulation and for legal oversight of corporations.

    The Guardian carries a picture gallery I recommend which is a bit graphic in places

    That chemical, methyl-iso-cyanate – that is some nasty stuff, you can’t store it with active protection systems and a lot of special training.

  3. Michelle Bachmann’s District Leads Minnesota In Foreclosures

    Bachmann’s district had 1,097 foreclosures in July, August and September of 2009, the highest in the state and almost three times as many as Rep. Tim Walz’s district, which had the state’s lowest number of foreclosures, at 396.

    As the Minnesota Independent noted in April, the second-term Republican voted against every major piece of foreclosure-relief legislation brought before the House

    Ed Schultz reported this last night on his MSNBC show, and today is being attacked by a writer from the Business And Media Institute, criticizing the method used to obtain the statistics. This objector prefers the data available from Hotpads.com, a house and apartment locating company, which covers the entire country, apparently.
    The data obtained by the Minnesota Independent reporter, Andy Birkey, was a compilation from two sources, a Minnesota-based non-profit community organization, and county sheriffs’ offices.

    I see nothing wrong with the methodology used by Mr. Birkey, while the source cited by Jeff Poor of the Business and Media Institute leaves me with questions. He cites a study done by Hotpads.com in October 2008 to refute data from third quarter 2009. Isn’t that comparing apples to oranges?

  4. What a cool idea! I wonder how many families have done the exact same thing this year to save money!

    Most families have heirloom Christmas ornaments, that are used on the tree every year. I expect there’s a tree in the residence with the Obama family’s special ornaments on it where only the family goes.

    • House, I started collecting ornaments for our holiday tree before my men were born. We pull out the boxes about a week before the day, and as I unwrap each one, I’ll say something about when, where, or why I got that ornament. Then the men hang them all on one branch of the tree. 😉

      The only religious thing on the tree is the angel on top, and that’s because my Mom gave it to me.

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