New Delhi, India a top government scientist was quoted as saying negligence by Union Carbide Corp. caused the gas leak from a Bhopal pesticide plant that killed more than 2,000 people and injured 60,000.
Dr. S. Varadarajan, director-general of the government’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, was quoted by the Hindustan Times on Friday as saying the U.S.-based company had been manufacturing lethal methyl isocyanine gas in its plant without adequate safety measures.
In a speech to the Indian Science Congress in the northern city of Luck now, he also charged there was no contingency plan for a leak, said the paper, New Delhi’s largest.
Varadarajan did not explain what caused the gas leak last month.
The Hindustan Times quoted the scientist as saying some control instruments at the plant were examined by a team from the scientific council and found to be faulty.
Tom Failla, a spokesman at Union Carbide’s headquarters in Danbury, Conn., said: ‘“‘we will not comment at all on the cause of the accident because our investigation is not complete. Our technical team has returned from India. They may have to go back for additional information.”
The Hindustan Times quoted Varadarajan as saying that cracks in the concrete covers of the underground storage tank may have been caused by factory workers attempting to stop the leak by allowing fresh air to cool the evaporating methyl isocyanate.
The United News of India quoted him as saying that despite inadequate safety measures, Union Carbide manufactured ‘‘many times its requirement” of methyl isocyanate at the pesticide plant and sold the extra amount to other firms.
Varadarajan was quoted as saying the effects of the poison gas were worsened by strong surface winds that blew the fumes toward densely-populated shanty areas during the three hours before the leak was stopped, UNI reported.
The leaking gas also contained traces of phosgene and chloroform, Varadarajan said.
Panic-stricken citizens who rushed out of their houses suffered worse exposure than those who remained indoors, he was quoted as saying.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 11 1985