5 Case Study: Bhopal
This highlights the different issues of accountability that have arisen as a consequence of the damage caused by the explosion at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, in December 1984. It enables you to pursue the issues that you have just studied.
The leak of toxic gas from a chemical plant in a city of some 900,000 people in Bhopal, India, has become notorious as the world’s largest chemical industrial incident. It has had a far-reaching impact on the population of Bhopal affected by the incident itself and on those affected by the continued contamination of the now disused plant. Globally, it has raised issues about the nature of corporate accountability, the infringement of the human rights of those harmed as a consequence and the effectiveness of national and regional governments in regulating corporate activity. These themes still have resonance some 26 years after the gas leak occurred. In order to place Bhopal in context it is important to have an accurate understanding of the facts and the issues involved.
This is an interactive case study in that it proceeds by means of a series of activities designed to highlight the key issues. You will be required to research the facts and information available on the Bhopal gas leak, to assess the credibility of the sources that you rely on and then to analyse the significance and implications of what you discover in human rights and corporate accountability terms.