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Bhopal Turns Twenty (Part 2)

B>II. Safety Devices Were Inadequate or Turned Off

Moreover, safety standards and maintenance procedures at the plant had been ignored for months prior to the accident. A listing of the defects of the MIC unit runs as follows:

-Gauges measuring temperature and pressure in the various parts of the unit, including the crucial MIC storage tanks, were so notoriously unreliable that workers ignored early signs of trouble;

-The refrigeration unit for keeping MIC at low temperatures (and therefore less likely to undergo overheating and expansion should a contaminant enter the tank) had been shut off for some time;

-The gas scrubber, designed to neutralize any escaping MIC, had been shut off for maintenance. Even had it been operative, post-disaster inquiries revealed, the maximum pressure it could handle was only one-quarter that which was actually reached in the accident;

-The flare tower, designed to burn off MIC escaping from the scrubber, was also turned off, waiting for replacement of a corroded piece of pipe. The tower, however, was inadequately designed for its task, as it was capable of handling only a quarter of the volume of gas released;

-The water curtain, designed to neutralize any remaining gas, was too short to reach the top of the flare tower, from where the MIC was billowing;

-The alarm on storage tank # 610 failed to signal the increase in temperature on the night of the disaster; and,

-MIC storage tank # 610 was filled beyond recommended capacity, and a storage tank which was supposed to be held in reserve for excess MIC already contained the MIC.

To add insult to injury, nobody outside the factory was warned because the safety siren had been turned off.

See Part 3, Wed., 12/8/04

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by Gregory D. Granger on Tuesday, December 07, 2004 at 16:47 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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