27. Union Carbide Injured, Permanently Disabled, and Killed Hundreds of Thousands, Then Walked Away With a Chump Change Payout
At around 11PM, December 2, 1984, workers at Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant noticed that pressure inside one of the MIC tanks had increased from the normal 2 psi to 10 psi. Half an hour later, the effects of leaking gas were detected. At 11:45, a leaking pipe was spotted. In the meantime, the pressure in the MIC tank kept rising. By 12:40AM, it had reached 55 psi, and began venting the toxic gas into the atmosphere. Within two hours, over 40 tons of MIC had been released, and were blown into Bhopal.
The methyl isocyanate stayed low to the ground, burned the eyes of victims, made them nauseous, and killed many. Evil corporate callousness and cost cutting resulted in about 600,000 people harmed by MIC. 8000 perished within two weeks, and another 8000 died later. About 40,000 suffered serious injuries, and 4000 were permanently disabled. In 1989, Union Carbide paid the equivalent of U$875 million in 2021 dollars to settle litigation. It was less than U$1500 per victim, or less than $15,000 for each of those seriously injured, permanently disabled, or killed.