Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bhopal by the Numbers: Green Light Index #2

Sometimes numbers alone can tell a striking story.  Our Green Light Index #1 took a numerical look at international economic realities.  Today, we're showing some of the numbers we encountered in our recent reading about the Bhopal disaster.  While we're at it, we should probably acknowledge the people over at Harper's Magazine who popularized this type of mathematical free verse.

Green Light Index #2

Estimated number of deaths resulting from...
Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster: 4,000
September 11 attacks: 2,995
Bhopal Chemical Disaster: 25,000
Atomic Bomb at Nagasaki: 80,000

Minimum total compensation paid to individuals and businesses impacted by World Trade Center attacks as of January 2005: $38.1 billion
Number of survivors who received compensation from the US government's Victim's Compensation Fund: 5,000 
Average compensation for civilians who were either killed or seriously injured in the World Trade Center attacks: $3.1 million

Estimated number of sea birds killed as a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill: 250,000-500,000 
 Minimum number of sea otters killed: 1,000 
Number of people killed: 0
Estimated legal and cleanup costs paid by Exxon after Exxon Valdez oil spill: $3.6 billion 

Amount of settlement paid by Union Carbide for damages caused in the Bhopal chemical disaster: $470 million
Number of people currently suffering chronic medical conditions as a result of the Bhopal disaster: 120,000
Number of people who had received compensation for injuries by the end of October, 2003: 554,895 
Average settlement paid to victims: Rs. 25,000 ($550)
Number of people receiving compensation for the death of a relative: 15,310
Average amount paid to families of the dead in Bhopal: $2,200

Fraction of claimants who had not been medically examined by the time the final, revised judgment against Union Carbide was passed by Indian Supreme Court in October 1991: nearly half
Amount of the monthly payments granted to most Bhopal victims while they waited for their claims to be investigated: Rs. 200
Amount of time, in years, that Abdul Wahid had to wait to receive compensation for his mother's death: 9

Factor by which surface water samples taken this year from the abandoned Dow/Union Carbide plant at Bhopal exceeded the Indian standard for pesticide concentration: 561 
Factor by which a water sample taken from a hand-pump more than 3 km from the factory site exceeded the Indian standard for mercury: 24
Factor by which the sample exceeded the Indian standard for the toxin Lindane: 40
Factor by which the sample exceeded the Indian standard for the toxin Carbaryl: 110

Years since former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson jumped bail and fled India in a private jet: 25  
Factor by which Anderson's annual golf club membership in 2003 exceeded the average compensation awarded to victims of the Bhopal disaster: 3-4

Though the 25th anniversary is past, it's not too late to do something.  You can start by Dumping your Dow products.  Students for Bhopal have a list of people you can contact  by phone or email here. These include members of the Dow board and the PM of India.
For lots of information; a good place to give money: bhopal.org or Students for Bhopal. 
To read what Indian bloggers and artists are saying, go to I'm a Bhopali.
And if Facebook is your thing, you can join a group here.


  1. Really interesting. Great post.

  2. Thanks pg. Like most stuff I do in life, it was harder than it looks. A LOT harder!

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