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December 3rd is the anniversary of one of the worst industrial accidents, the Bhopal disaster. The Union Carbide plant outside the city of Bhopal, India accidentally released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas used in the production of pesticides. The gas cloud enveloped the city of nearly a million people and caused nearly 4000 deaths and another estimated 20,000 who needed urgent medical attention.

The leak was caused when a large amount of water entered the MIC storage tank. Water reacts with MIC in an exothermic reaction that quickly raised the temperature and pressure inside the tank that overwhelmed the safety valves. Investigations into the accident highlighted many problems involving poor safety maintenance, cost cutting, and ignored warnings. The plant is shut down, but still poses a toxic danger zone that is in need of cleaning up 25 years later.

Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.


December 8, 2009 at 4:26 am
(1) saba sultan says:

I must say this was the worst tragedy

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