Lesson Learnt from Bhopal Tragedy

In 1984, a deadly chemical industry tragedy was occurred in pesticide plant in Bhopal, India that caused More than 3800 people were death by that accident. The methyl isocyanate (MIC) was released to the air and combined with water forming a poisonous gas that covered up all of areas surround the pesticide plant in Bhopal. (Browning, 1993). The impact of this phenomenon was kept increasing, which had also resulted adverse health effects such as respiratory, ocular, gastrointestinal, genetic and neurobehavioral problems for people who lived near the incident area. In addition, this disaster was also caused 102.000 people suffered of permanent disabilities (Broughton, 2005)

The Bhopal type disaster can be occurred in anywhere, even in the developed country like United States.  The first thing that might be a reason in the US for causing this type of disaster is unwanted event from natural disasters. The country like US has some potential natural disasters that can be destructible and massive. Some areas have typical disasters for example New Madrid seismic Zone that covered southern and Midwestern United States, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Missouri. It has been recorded the largest magnitude earthquake in the history of US, which has 8.6 M which has potential probability to destroy some industrial facilities along the seismic zones. Imagine if that happen in one of pesticide plant in the US, the worst scenario is exactly similar from what happened in Bhopal. In addition, other natural disasters also have similar huge potential causing a big problem such as flash floods, and tornadoes.

Terrorist attack is also believed to be one of threats that can make a terror that similar in Bhopal tragedy. When the Bhopal disaster happened, one of speculation that caused it was terrorist attack by Sikh terrorist named “Black September” (Broughton, 2005). In the US, for example the 9/11 is one of devastating terrorist attacks that caused over 3.000 people died. So obviously, terrorist attacks have dealt with this situation.

Finally, lacking of safety procedure and regulation as well as bad managements in industry places are the highest potential caused of this type of disaster. In fact, the Bhopal tragedy was caused by sabotage of their unsatisfied employees who deliberately introduced water into a methyl isocyanate storage tank (Browning, 1993).  It means every small component is important to ensure the safety of big industries.

Many lesson learnt from the Bhopal tragedy that we could apply for reducing industrial hazards. In many developing countries, the critical problem is lacking of safety regulations and procedures to overcome such chemical disasters or injuries. However in develop countries like US where the safety policies and regulations have been strictly regulated. Some key points to prevent this disaster are to sustain the safety management performance in order to improve the quality of companies and reduce the risk of industrial hazards. Strengthen the communication system for example create early warning system to protect the workers and the people around the facilities. Calibrate all the machines, tools, and safety facilities regularly. And last but not least, create a good working environment with all employees to prevent sabotage that happen in Bhopal. In addition, providing contingency plan for emergency situation, such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks is also important to reduce the causalities of the disasters.


Browning J. B. (1993), Union Carbide, Disaster at Bhopal. Jackson Browning Report – Union Carbide Corp.

Broughton, E. (2005). The Bhopal disaster and its aftermath: a review. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source 2005, 4:6 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-4-6


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