Opening Keynote – The Next Bhopal

  • Conference Program
  • Day 2
  • 8:00 am - 9:00 am

Many of the precursors that led to the Bhopal disaster actually occur daily in minor forms throughout industry today. Preventing disasters — and the incidents of lesser consequence leading up to them — requires probing deeper beneath their seemingly superficial, distracting, and highly-visible exterior. Doing so shows how similar all industrial disasters actually are. Recognizing the patterns that led to the Bhopal disaster in many of the processes that we operate today indicates there is a weakness deserving our attention. This presentation and paper will summarize fundamentals of a portion of the Bhopal plant’s process design, changes that were made contrary to the original specifications, problems encountered, numerous design and operational changes that were made (with the best of intentions) that simply led to further problems, and how these issues came together to cause the worst industrial disaster in history. Relating these events to issues commonly encountered in other facilities around the world today creates many parallels. This awareness is needed to prevent major industrial disasters and the more frequent “minor” process safety events that precede them today.