• chemical accidents;
  • case histories;
  • process safety


The most influential process safety accident passed its 20th anniversary on December 3, 2004. At an international symposium to mark the event in Kanpur, India, during the week of this anniversary, process safety practitioners from around the world assembled to discuss progress in resolving the Bhopal tragedy and in advancing the practice of process safety worldwide. This paper provides insight into the Bhopal site as attendees found it in December 2004. Since 1984, many positive steps worldwide have been made in regard to improvements in process safety and protection of personnel within chemical plants and of people in the surrounding communities. However, little visible progress has been made in decommissioning and decontaminating the Bhopal plant site, now under control of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Many plant chemicals, abandoned there in 1985, were still at the site in 2004, mostly in substandard storage conditions. Mitigation recently commenced, but unconfirmed reports of the mitigation methods are concerning. The lesson learned: we all have a responsibility to ensure that events which follow a chemical accident reach a proper conclusion; and that no further undue suffering results to the general public and our fellow employees. © 2007 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog 26:180–184, 2007