04 Double standards of safety

From Sathyu’s Introduction to Bhopal for Young People

Union Carbide already had a pesticide factory running in a small town in the USA called Institute in West Virginia. When they built the factory in Bhopal, instead of building a factory similar to the factory at Institute, they made many changes. They cut down on the safety systems, used ordinary steel in place of stainless steel, and installed very large tanks for storing the chemical, methyl isocyanate (MIC), so that they needed only a few tanks for storage. All this was done to make the Bhopal factory cost way cheaper (about $8 million cheaper) than the Institute factory. Obviously, it also made the factory in Bhopal rather unsafe. When the factory started running more cost-cutting was done by the management. A refrigeration plant that kept the methyl msocyanate in the tank at zero degrees centigrade was shut down to save about $70 a day. Also, half the people working in the factory were laid off, which meant there were fewer people keeping an eye on safety.

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.