Bhopal gas: A lethal trade secret

The Times of India,  December 1984

Twenty-five years after the Bhopal gas leak,  I still wonder if we are any wiser on an antidote to Methyl isocyanate.  Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for MIC antidote.  Presumably,  it still remains a  trade secret of Union Carbide  (now owned by Dow Chemical) – a secret that killed thousands in Bhopal and left thousands of others physically impaired.

Doctors in Bhopal on that December night in 1984,  clueless and left to their own devices, administered drugs for cyanide poisoning, as victims who inhaled the gas poured in at Hamidia Hospital  only to die  by the hundreds. I recall,  reporting in The Times of India, ‘ all nine cremation grounds in town were kept busy round the clock’.  And all that Union Carbide could be persuaded to say,  in the face of such calamitous gas leak,  was that methyl isocyanate ‘had nothing to do with cyanide and  that the two substances had entirely different effects on tissues and human health’.  They weren’t being very helpful, were they ?

Postmortem indicated that the deaths were due to respiratory failure following pulmonary oedema (fluid in the lungs).  It was found that the lungs of gas victims contained 250 cc of fluid and weighed 900  grams against the normal lungs weight of 400 to 500 grams.

Sourced from my article : The night Bhopal Turned a Gas Chamber.

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3 Responses

  1. Good article gvk.Thanks.

    Will something like Bhopal tragedy occur again? If we go by what happened in Kaiga yesterday, such tragedies can occur again and again, because we do not follow rules and enforce descipline , especially in Industrail units. What happened in Jaipur in Oil depots is still fresh in smokefilled memory. Chaltha Hai attitude is what we pay dearly in accidents, traffic or otherwise.Finally does anybody check the giant wheels that whirr around during Dasara Exhibitions or do inspectors check dynamite stored in silos regularly? These are places where accidents are waiting to happen…

  2. Its most unfortunate when doctors are clueless when faced with crisis like this or in cases of mysterious illnesses that affect some villagers en -masse due to polluted water etc…….if Union Carbide is witholding valuable lifesaving information about antidotes, it should be tried for wilful genocide, not just negligence or accident.

  3. nd soon the country is going to have more nuclear plants…..

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