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Industry Response

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Union Carbide's Response

Union Carbide Corporation ( UCC) and Union Carbide India, Ltd ( UCIL) maintain that the Bhopal gas leak was employee sabotage and was not due to lack of safety measures. Immediately following the Bhopal gas leak, UCC immediately responded to the leak. UCIL, which owned 49% of shares in the company, did not respond to the gas leak and let the parent company UCC respond. UCC made initial efforts to investigate the leak, clean up the site, and provide monetary support for victims. Both UCIL and UCC were held legally and financially responsible for the incident.

Immediate Response: UCC

  • Investigated to determine cause of the leak
  • Launched effort to clean up the Bhopal site
  • Provided aid to victims
  • $2 million to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund;
  • Provided medical equipment, supplies, and medical experts;
  • $5 million to the Indian Red Cross;
  • $20 million in initial funding for a Bhopal hospital;
  • $90 million to the charitable trust for Bhopal hospital (by court order)

Long Term Response: UCC and UCIL

  • Participation in the Responsible Care program
  • UCC and UCIL paid final settlement of $470 million to Indian Government in 1999
  • UCC sold shares in UCIL in 1994 and assumed no further responsibility for leak

Dow Chemical's Response

Dow Chemicals took over the Bhopal plant from its subsidiary Union Carbide 16 years after the gas leak. Dow Chemical maintains no responsibility for the Bhopal gas leak.

“Dow never owned or operated the Bhopal plant” and “has neither a connection to nor legal liability” for the leak. Additionally, Dow claims that it has “no authority to order Union Carbide (a separate corporation) to take action.” Although Dow has not taken any responsibility for the Bhopal site, Dow participates in the Responsible Care program.

Chemical Industry Response

The chemical industry responded to tragic events such as the Bhopal gas leak by implementing the Responsible Care program. Responsible Care originated in Canada and was introduced in 1985. Responsible Care is a global initiative developed and implemented by chemical companies to prevent future problems by improving community awareness, emergency preparedness and process safety standards.

International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) members are mandated to participate in Responsible Care which includes:

  • Performance measurement and reporting
  • Implementation of a security code
  • Management system to achieve and verify results
  • Independent certification of standards

Responsible Care is practiced in 53 countries, which accounts for 90% of global chemical production. There was an increase in participation after Agenda 21 was adopted after the Rio Earth summit in 1992. Responsible Care has been adopted by most large companies but not many small and medium companies across the world. It has been adopted by Europe's leading chemical producers (80% of chemical sales), however represents only 20% of chemical companies. Responsible Care was commended for sustainable development at the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 and continues to produce initiatives to increase the number of participating companies and countries.


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