Nearly all the deadly gas stored at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal was neutralised on December 19.
BHOPAL, INDIA DECEMBER 17, 1984 (REUTERS - JAGDISH KAPOOR)
SV Union Carbide works manager Mr. Mukund speaking to Visnews reporter. (SOT)
TRANSCRIPTS: MUKUND: (SEQ 1)"I got a telephone call at home, this was the middle of the night, 1.15 or so, from the ADM saying that there was some leak of material from our factory and that the people in the (indistinct) areas were complaining about it. However, I was surprised because the chemical part of our factory was not in production at that time. Anyway I told him I would check with the factory and let him know. When I checked with factory I found that they did have an over-pressure in one of the (indistinct) tanks. The extent of the problem was not at all clear because the person answering was himself not in a position to talk very much because the whole area was engulfed in MIC. And I did find out that additional senior people had been called out for help, so I reported back to the ADM that this is what I had found out, that I was going down to the factory, and that if I learnt anything more I would get back to them."
REPORTER: "What do you think went wrong on that dreadful night?"
MUKUND:"There seems to have been some kind of a reaction in the tank, the exact nature of which we do not know at this time. And this is something that the investigating team will have to find out, as to what happened. But as a result the pressure and temperature in the tank went much higher than the normal limits, there is a safety device on the tank to keep it from (indistinct) oil pressure, so this removed the excess pressure, the gases went to a scrubber which is designed to render the material harmless by scrubbing it with caustic. But the flow was apparently more than what it could cope with, and some un-detoxified material was released into the atmosphere. There was no damage to the tanks due to the safety devices having worked, so there was no leak as such from either the tank due to the safety devices having worked, so there was no leak as such from either the tank or the piping but it was venting material which was toxic instead of being harmless."
Background: Nearly all the deadly gas stored at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal was neutralised on December 19. The Press Trust of India says all 16 tons of methyl isocyanate stored in an underground tank and in six drums was processed by the time the factory closed at sunset. Fourteen tons of the gas that killed 2,500 people in the central Indian city after a leak on December 3 has been moved out of the tank for convertin into pesticide. Reassured by the news of the successful neutralisation, thousands of people returned to Bhopal and many shops and markets reopened. About 250,000 people fled last week fearing a second gas leak during the neutralisation process, which began on December 16. The works manger of Union Carbide, Mr. Mukund, who was released on bail to look after the gas neutralisation says the first he knew of the disaster was a phone call in the middle of the night.