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Bhopal, India, Chemical Disaster

  • By: Rajyashree Reddy
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

On the night of December 3, 1984, the toxic chemical methyl isocyanate leaked from the premises of the U.S.-based Union Carbide's pesticide plant in Bhopal, the capital city of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Union Carbide had set up its plant amid a dense “squatter settlement” and had stored methyl isocyanate in violation of the 1975 Bhopal Development Plan. The leaked chemical engulfed this community and left a trail of fatalities. The number of people affected is disputed, with estimates suggesting that 2 to 10 thousand died in the immediate aftermath of the accident and that an additional half million were permanently maimed. Environmental scholars argue that the disaster had all the characteristics of what the sociologist Charles Perrow has termed a normal ...

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