Emergency management (or disaster management) is the discipline of dealing with and avoiding risks. It is a discipline that involves preparing for disaster before it occurs, disaster response (e. g. , emergency evacuation, quarantine, mass decontamination, etc. ), and supporting, and rebuilding society after natural or human-made disasters have occurred. In general, any Emergency management is the continuous process by which all individuals, groups, and communities manage hazards in an effort to avoid or ameliorate the impact of disasters resulting from the hazards.
Actions taken depend in part on perceptions of risk of those exposed. Reasons what led to the Bhopal Gas Disaster The 1985 reports give a picture of what led to the disaster and how it developed- * Factors leading to the 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 being switched off to save money—including the MIC tank refrigeration system which alone would have prevented the disaster. The problem was made worse by the plant’s location near a densely populated area, non-existent catastrophe plans and shortcomings in health care and socio-economic rehabilitation. Analysis shows that the parties responsible for the magnitude of the disaster are the two owners, Union Carbide Corporation and the Government of India, and to some extent, the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
The disaster could have been avoided if the following actions would have been taken: 1. It emerged in 1998, during civil action suits in India, that, unlike Union Carbide plants in the US, its Indian subsidiary plants were not prepared for problems. No action plans had been established to cope with incidents of this magnitude. This included not informing local authorities of the quantities or dangers of chemicals used and manufactured at Bhopal. 2. The MIC tank alarms had not worked for four years. 3.
There was only one manual back-up system, compared to a four-stage system used in the US. 4. The flare tower and the vent gas scrubber had been out of service for five months before the disaster. The gas scrubber therefore did not treat escaping gases with sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), which might have brought the concentration down to a safe level. Even if the scrubber had been working, according to Weir, investigations in the aftermath of the disaster discovered that the maximum pressure it could handle was only one-quarter of that which was present in the accident.
Furthermore, the flare tower itself was improperly designed and could only hold one-quarter of the volume of gas that was leaked in 1984. 5. To reduce energy costs, the refrigeration system, designed to inhibit the volatilization of MIC, had been left idle—the MIC was kept at 20 degrees Celsius (room temperature), not the 4. 5 degrees advised by the manual, and some of the coolant was being used elsewhere. 6. The steam boiler, intended to clean the pipes, was out of action for unknown reasons. 7.
Slip-blind plates that would have prevented water from pipes being cleaned from leaking into the MIC tanks through faulty valves were not installed. Their installation had been omitted from the cleaning checklist. 8. Water sprays designed to “knock down” gas leaks were poorly designed—set to 13 meters and below, they could not spray high enough to reduce the concentration of escaping gas. 9. The MIC tank had been malfunctioning for roughly a week. Other tanks had been used for that week, rather than repairing the broken one, which was left to “stew”.
The build-up in temperature and pressure is believed to have affected the magnitude of the gas release. 10. Carbon steel valves were used at the factory, even though they corrode when exposed to acid. On the night of the disaster, a leaking carbon steel valve was found, allowing water to enter the MIC tanks. The pipe was not repaired because it was believed it would take too much time and be too expensive. 11. UCC admitted in their own investigation report that most of the safety systems were not functioning on the night of December 3, 1984. 12.
Themistocles D’Silva asserts in the latest book—The Black Box of Bhopal—that the design of the MIC plant, following government guidelines, was “Indianized” by UCIL engineers to maximize the use of indigenous materials and products. It also dispensed with the use of sophisticated instrumentation as not appropriate for the Indian plant. Because of the unavailability of electronic parts in India, the Indian engineers preferred pneumatic instrumentation. This is supported with original government documents, which are appended. In a letter from the Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals, No.
A&I-26(1)/70, dated 13th March, 1972, to UCIL, it specified that, Approved/Registered Indian Engineering Design and Consultancy Organizations must be the prime consultants. UCIL, in reply, letter dated November 24th 1972, informed that 6 Indian design and production engineers would be associated from the very beginning of the design and engineering work of the project, to maximise indigenous capability in the interest of the country. If the above mentioned points had been taken care, the leakage of the Bhopal gas would have been prevented.
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