Bhopal Ethics

1316 WordsApr 12, 20126 Pages
The Bhopal gas leak was a terrible tragedy in which thousands of helpless civilians were killed and hundreds of thousands were injured as they slept. Determining who was at fault and, consequently, who should compensate the victims and clean up the site are questions that have plagued the affected parties, my Rotman classmates and the world at large for over 25 years. The analysis to follow, in attempting to present the roles and responsibilities of each major player, will demonstrate the incredible difficulty involved in assigning conclusive responsibility for the tragedy. This will be followed by my personal reflections on the incident in which I present an additional culprit to those discussed in class. Union Carbide Corporation (US):…show more content…
Secondly, the Government neglected the densely-populated shanty town that had grown up near the plant on land deeded from local officials. Its residents were the first and main victims of the poisonous gas. Still, many will argue that a cost-benefit analysis made creating jobs and accessible pesticide for a poor and hungry region the proper priority. While many were ultimately harmed by the leak, how many more had benefitted from the poverty-alleviating jobs and hunger-alleviating crops? Here again we find valid points and counter-points, leaving us no closer to assigning conclusive blame and responsibility for the tragedy. Dow Chemical: While Dow certainly protected itself in the purchase agreement from a legal standpoint, there are those that suggest the proper ethical action is for Dow to assume responsibility for any outstanding clean up and compensation. While this may innately feel like the right thing to do, the counterpoint that Dow had nothing to do with the incident and should not be punished after paying fair market value for Union Carbide is also valid. Personal Reflection: Analyzing the conduct of the major parties has not produced any conclusive allocation of responsibility. It is clear that each party deserves significant blame but no party deserves total blame. There is, however, an overlooked culprit that I believe deserves the bulk of the blame: the expectations market that has hijacked the decision making of US corporations(1).
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