Research Papers Library

Sample Investigative Report: BHOPAL


The Bhopal gas disaster occurred in the Indian city of Bhopal in 1984. It caused the death of at least 2,000 people, and was also responsible for significant ongoing health issues for the Bhopal community for many years after the accident. This report investigates the main technical causes of the disaster, and also considers whether a lack of ethics was responsible for what happened. Reports show that the immediate cause of the incident was the accidental release of water into a tank of the chemical methyl isocyanate (MIC), triggering a runaway chemical reaction. It is widely held that this release of water was due to poor maintenance of the water pipes and valves leading to the tank (Eckerman 2005). A key ethical principle in engineering is that practicing engineers “should always strive to serve the community ahead of other personal or sectional interests” (Engineers Australia, 2010). Analysis of the Bhopal case suggests, the owners of the plant, Union Carbide, did not invest sufficiently in the maintenance of the facility and so appear to have been in breach of this key ethical principle.

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