Bhopal Gas Tragedy Communication Failures Case Study

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The scale of the tragedy, the loss of life and the implications for industrial/chemical manufacturing, made the story an instant worldwide headline (Kurzman, 1987).

The decision was made in favor of openness and a crisis communication team was established and instructed to conduct daily press briefings at a minimum. The Company also experienced severe difficulties in getting accurate information from the plant in India regarding the specifics of the incident (Kurzman, p.89) Phone lines were scarce and already packed with calls.

Union Carbide CEO, Warren Anderson felt it was important for him personally to go to Bhopal to demonstrate the commitment the company had to the rescue effort and to the investigation. The Indian Government was not forthcoming with information, as they intended to shift blame away from themselves to Union Carbide (Shrivastava, p.97).

There were significant precautions taken at the US plant in West Virginia that were not in place in Bhopal. There was a safety visit made there by the Americans in 1982 but no procedures or changes were put in place based on their recommendations.

Even minimal safety standards that the plant had devised were pushed aside to provide more financial benefit.


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