Union Carbide: Bhopal, India
Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) was one of the largest organizations in the world. On December 2, 1984, one of the worst chemical industry accidents in history occurred at the Union Carbide facility located in Bhopal, India. Around midnight on the second an employee, having heard complaints of eye irritation, discovered a leak near a pressure valve on a tank of highly lethal pesticide called MIC. Because of this leak "...40 tons of deadly gas poured into the neighboring community" (Center, Jackson, 2003, p.333). The investigation that ensued took 1ÃÂ½ years to complete. What had been blamed on faulty safety measures was ultimately blamed on an employee who deliberately sabotaged the tanks. "Official estimates stated that 1,700 residents were killed. In addition, 3,500 were hospitalized and 75,000 were treated for injuries sustained from exposure to the gas. Death figures range from anywhere between 1,700 to 4,000.
It was also estimated that 60,000 people would require long-term respiratory care. These figures earned it the designation as "the worst industrial disaster ever" (Center, Jackson, 2003, p.333).
The Corporate Communications department was located in the United States tucked away in Danbury, Connecticut. "From the beginning, UCC encountered problems in addressing public concerns because of the physical communication difficulties it encountered" (Center, Jackson, 2003, p.335). It was not until 4:30 a.m. when the press relations manager for UCC was made aware of the situation. He found out via a telephone call from a reporter with CBS inquiring about the leak.
Communications were further impeded by the fact that news regarding the disaster was not reaching American shores. The communication between Bhopal and the United States was virtually non-existent. The Indian government, advised by legal counsel not to communicate, made the communications process even more difficult. This problem exaggerated by...