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A Deterministic and Probabilistic Analyses of the Carbon Tetrachloride Contaminant Plume in Groundwater at the Former Union Carbide India Limited Factory in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

Ram, Vijay Selvan (2012)
Master's Thesis (47 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Ryan, P Barry
Committee Members: Tolbert, Paige ; Dhara, Ramana (CDC); Morris, Maslia (ATSDR);
Research Fields: Environmental Sciences; Health Sciences, Public Health
Partnering Agencies: Does not apply (no collaborating organization)
Keywords: Bhopal; ACTS; Groundwater
Program: Rollins School of Public Health, Environmental Health (Global Environmental Health - MD & MPH )
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A Deterministic and Probabilistic Analyses of the Carbon Tetrachloride Contaminant
Plume in Groundwater at the Former Union Carbide India Limited Factory in
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
The Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) factory in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh is
the site of one of the world's worst industrial disasters. In 1984, a gas release of
Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) caused the deaths of thousands within weeks and
thousands more since. After this incident, the factory operations ceased and the site
was abandoned. However, remediation activities have yet to take place, which
means that the pesticide products and their production intermediates serve as
ongoing pollutants to the environment, in particular, the groundwater. In order to
evaluate the effect of this contamination, the following study attempts to describe
the contaminant plume of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) in the groundwater using
analytical models provided by publicly the available software known as analytical
contaminant transport analysis system (ACTS). CCl4 is known to have adverse
effects on human health when consumed through the drinking water and is
classified as possibly carcinogenic by the Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS). The calibrated deterministic results show that concentrations of CCL4 do
not exceed the U.S. EPA maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) roughly 850m from
the source in the northeast direction. Probabilistic simulations show that there is a
100% probability that CCl4 concentrations exceed WHO specified MCL up to the
year 2034 at sites 500m, 1000m and 2000m northeast of the UCIL site. Analytical
models are an effective tool in decision making for environmental managers and
policymakers. As many of the parameters used as inputs for the analytical model
were based on sparse field data and literature values, it is recommended that future
studies should aim to better characterize the hydrogeological system of which the
land surrounding the UCIL site is a part. This information will help to generate more
representative analytical models with which to analyze the contaminant plume.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

I. Background (p.1 - p.3)

1. The Bhopal Syndrome

2. The Infamous MIC-tank Explosion

3. Health Effects of MIC-Exposure
II. Introduction (p.3 - p.9)

1. Union Carbide India Limited

2. Contaminated Groundwater in Bhopal

3. Study Objectives

4. Chemical and Contaminant Properties of Carbon Tetrachloride
III. Methods (p.9 - p.12)

1. Modeling Approach and Assumptions

2. Model Input Parameters and Source Definitions for Deterministic
3. Model Input Parameters for Probabilistic Simulations
IV. Results (p.12 - p.13)

1. Calibration Results

2. Deterministic Model Simulations

3. Probabilistic Model Simulations
V. Discussion and Conclusion ( p.13 - p.16)

1. Contaminant Plume

2. Study Limitations
VI. References (p.17 - p.19)


Figure 1: The Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh (p. 20)
Figure 2: Center for Science and Environment Schematic of UCIL Factory (p.21)
Figure 3: Greenpeace Sampling Locations at the UCIL Factory in Bhopal, India (p.22)
Figure 4: NEERI: Location of Suspected Dump Sites (p.23)
Figure 5a-c: Deterministic Simulation Results for Calibration Target and Model
Simulation (p. 24 - 26)
Figure 6a-b: PDF histograms for Probabilistic Simulations (p.27)
Figure 7a-c: Probabilistic Simulation Results 500m from the Source (p.28 - p.30)
Figure 8a-c: Probabilistic Simulation Results 1000m from the Source (p.31 - p.33)
Figure 9a-c: Probabilistic Simulation Results 2000m from the Source (p.34 - p.36)


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