Mitchieville’s Week of Death – Day 1

“Tis the season to be jolly” I don’t think so. It occurred to me some time ago that the first week of December has to be histories deadliest week of the year. A couple years later and here I am with a soapbox to stand on, so over the next seven days I am going to prove to you that the first week of December is without a doubt “The Week of Death”.

Union Carbide Disaster, Bhopal, India, December 3, 1984

Arguably the biggest industrial disaster in history, in the early hours December 3, 1984 the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal India released 40 tons of toxic gas into the air after water was mixed with the methyl isocyante the plant was manufacturing. As a series of fail-safe’s and warning systems had either been intentionally by-passed or poorly maintained there was little warning for the citizens of Bhopal of the unfolding disaster.
Tragically, the main alarms did go off to warn the citizens of Bhopal but were shut off as not to panic the populace. (see links here and here )

While the numbers have never been totally agreed upon, between 3000 and 5000 people died, with another some 500 000 people exposed to the toxic fumes. It is believed that to date some 20 000 people have died as a result of this disaster. Union Carbide maintains that the cause of the disaster was sabotage however no one single person has ever been held accountable for the tragedy. The company was ordered to pay $470M in settlements plus tens of millions in clean-up and environmental costs throughout the years.

This disaster really hit home for me as at the time my family was living in the beautiful Central Alberta town of Anhydrous Ammonia Plant being built by, you guessed it, Union Carbide. The image at the top of this post haunted my dreams for weeks as did the nightmares I had of Red Deer and Innisfail falling victim to the same sort of disaster. Mom finally got me to relax by telling me that this could never happen as my dad would never allow Joffre to built if it was that dangerous (and 23 years later nothing has happened there so I guess this is proof that mom is always right).

See you tomorrow night with another post for Mitchieville’s “Week of Death”.

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6, Day 7

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