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The Black Box of Bhopal: A Closer Look at the World's Deadliest Industrial Disaster [Paperback]

Themistocles D'Silva
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

22 Sep 2006
This work reveals little-known facts about the cause of the deadly gas leak from Union Carbide's Bhopal plant, and discredits the conclusions of the subsequent government-controlled investigation.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Trafford Publishing (22 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412084121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412084123
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,037,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

The author is a research chemist with over twenty years of experience in the use of methyl isocyanate (MIC), and is a holder of over sixty-five patents and several scientific publications. Subsequent to the tragedy, he was a member of the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) investigation team that determined the real cause of the gas leak.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Black Box Of Bhopal. 27 April 2011
By Oliver
The book was very usful in helping with my dissertation.
The ook arrived on time and in good condition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Analysis of the Bhopal Event 29 Dec 2006
By David T. Manning - Published on
The Black Box of Bhopal, by Dr. Themistocles D'Silva, is a clear and comprehensive account of the Bhopal plant disaster, including the plant's origin, the gaseous decomposition and its analysis and social and legal events following. Dr. D'Silva was a member of the scientific team that investigated the event and analyzed the contents of fateful Tank # 610(along with Tank # 611, the "black boxes").From a series of over 500 experiments, the team was able to reproduce the exact decomposition on a laboratory scale and establish the initial conditions. D'Silva's conclusions, borne out by two independent studies, was that the gaseous emission resulted from introduction of a massive volume of water into the methyl isocyanate of Tank # 610. The implications of the water introduction are discussed.

This book is unique as the first account of the incident by an organic chemist with both opportunity and background to uncover the event's causes and explain them in detail. Extensive footnoting of technical and press reports preserves the high readability of the text, never obscured by its extensive documentation. Dr. D'Silva is an internationally-recognized expert in carbamate and methyl isocyanate chemistry and his book is essential for an understanding of the Bhopal tragedy.

David T. Manning, Ph.D.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorough 24 Mar 2007
By Anibal Lopes - Published on
D'Silva'a account of the Bhopal MIC tragedy was clear and concise. The case is now closed. He informs us of the background of the building of the plant, the negotiations and contract with the Indian government, and critical decisions made that affected the profitability of the operations. Several circumstances (political upheaval, worker discontent, plant maintenance negligence, cost cutting, imminent plant shutdown) conspired to creat a recipe for disaster. The tragedy that followed the act of sabotage could have been averted if the proper safeguards were in place. D'Silva adeptly highlights crucial technical, business, legal, and political aspects of the rise and fall of Union Carbide India Limited's pesticide business, the release of methyl isocyanate that smothered the lives of so many innocent people, and the bungled aftermath. He conveys the conclusive results of the chemical investigation by Union Carbide Agricultural Products Company, Inc. of the MIC storage tank residue after the incident, previously published in peer-reviewed technical journals, in terms easily understood by the general public.

D'Silva maintains a tone of compassion throughout his narrative. His many conversations with victims of the tragedy remind us of the huge moral cost and its unimaginable toll on human life and suffering. He should be very proud of his successful ten-year effort to get the true story told- it's one that's worth listening to.

D'Silva will donate all proceeds from the book to charitable and educational institutions in India.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Details and not politics 15 Oct 2010
By Joel Levitt - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book went through the details for this event. There is a good deal of information about the disaster from people who don't know anything about the plant operations. D'Silva knows this plant and gave an insider's view. It was exactly what I was looking for to see what the root causes were and how this kind of thing can be avoided in the future.
19 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Union Carbide proclaims Union Carbide guilt free 15 Dec 2006
By A. Freechild - Published on
The author D'Silva worked for Union Carbide for 20 years and investigated the Bhopal case while employed by the company. This "thoroughly researched work" doesn't mention the Amnesty International Report on the disaster and carefully sidesteps issues that might imply Union Carbide's culpability. The 1984 Disaster killed more than 22,000 people according to Amnesty in a catastrophic gas leak in which safety systems completely failed at the plant. Regardless if he was paid by the company directly or just wants to defend the company out of loyalty, D'Silva bases much of his work on documents Union Carbide's defense used itself in court. He seems to want to shift as much blame as possible onto the Indian government and minimizes the numbers of dead and the ongoing health impacts of the leak

While the Indian government is far from blameless, Union Carbide India Limited was majority owned by the US Union Carbide Company when it gassed the city of Bhopal. If D'Silva believed advocates for the survivors such as Amnesty International are lying, he should have addressed this directly in the book. He doesn't explain why the company never presented a possible saboteur in court, if that was the cause of the disaster as UCC claimed. And he doesn't explain why Union Carbide refuses to show up to face criminal charges to this day. One is left to wonder if the evidence is so good, why doesn't UCC (now owned by Dow) prove it in court?
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Read! 27 Jan 2013
By David Van Barneveld - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for those interested in the worlds' worst peacetime industrial accident in India in 1984. I could not put it down! A gripping and enthralling story. Don't miss out on this one.
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