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Union Carbide

Union Carbide Corporation (Union Carbide) is one of the oldest chemical and polymers companies in the United States, and currently has more than 3,800 employees.

In 1920, its researchers developed an economical way to make ethylene from natural gas, giving birth to the modern petrochemicals industry. Today, Union Carbide possesses some of the industry's most advanced process and catalyst technologies, and operates some of the most cost-efficient, large-scale production facilities in the world. Before divesting them, the chemical giant also owned consumer products Eveready and Energizer batteries, Glad bags and wraps, Simoniz car wax and Prestone antifreeze.

Union Carbide primarily produces chemicals and polymers that undergo one or more further conversions by customers before reaching consumers. Some of these materials are high-volume commodities, while others are specialty products meeting the needs of smaller market niches. The end-uses served include paints and coatings, packaging, wire and cable, household products, personal care, pharmaceuticals, automotive, textiles, agriculture and oil and gas.

Union Carbide is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (TDCC) and sells most of the products it manufactures to TDCC.

Union Carbide is also infamous for a major industrial accident that took place in its Bhopal, India plant in 1984.

Company history

1917 Union Carbide & Carbon Corporation is incorporated on Nov. 1, and acquires the stock of: Linde Air Products Co.; National Carbon Company, Inc.; Prest-O-Lite Co., Inc.; and Union Carbide Company (formed in 1898).

1919 George O. Curme, Jr. files the first patent for commercial preparation of ethylene.

1920 Union Carbide establishes Carbide and Carbon Chemicals Corporation; also, the first commercial ethylene plant is completed at Clendenin, WV - the start of the petrochemical industry.

1923 Eleven acres of land in South Charleston, WV, are leased to set up a commercial scale plant, which will - in a few years - begin production of several ethylene-based chemicals.

1932 First lawsuits following the Hawk's Nest Incident.

1939 Bakelite Corporation merges into Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation. Bakelite, founded by Dr. Leo Baekeland, was a pioneer in plastics.

1941 Chemical production begins at Texas City, TX.

1947 Union Carbide purchases plant in Institute, WV, which it had previously built and operated for the government for the production of butadiene and styrene at the start of World War II.

1954 Chemical production at Seadrift, TX, begins.

1957 Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation changes name to Union Carbide Corporation.

1960s The Mining and Metals Division is formed by combining the Metals and Ore Divisions and part of the Nuclear Division.

1966 First chemical products are shipped from Taft, LA, plant.

1977 UNIPOL Process technology for making polyethylene is announced.

1978 Union Carbide completes major divestiture, selling nearly all of its European petrochemical operations to BP Chemicals Ltd.

1981 Union Carbide sells portion of its metals business.

1983 A major advance expanding the scope of the UNIPOL Process technology to include polypropylene is announced.

1984 In December, a gas leak at a Union Carbide India Limited plant in Bhopal, India, results in tragic loss of life in what is known as the Bhopal disaster, when up to 20,000 people lost their lives. See, a site set up by a medical clinic and victims' fund; also see, a website run by the Union Carbide company, for their positions on the tragedy and for a response to Union Carbide's site (looks similar but has different links).

1985 In March, the Government of India (GOI) enacts the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act that enables the GOI to act as the legal representative of the victims in claims arising of or related to the Bhopal disaster.

1986 Union Carbide divests a number of businesses: films packaging, major portions of metals business, battery products, specialty polymers and composites, home and automotive products and agricultural products business.

1989 Carbon products and industrial gases businesses become subsidiaries on Jan. 1. Carbon products business is renamed UCAR Carbon Company and industrial gas business is named Union Carbide Industrial Gases Inc.

Union Carbide and Union Carbide India Limited enter into a $470 million legal settlement with the Government of India, which represented all claimants in the Bhopal gas tragedy case. The settlement is affirmed by the Supreme Court of India, which describes it as "just, equitable and reasonable," and settles all claims arising out of the incident.

1991 Mitsubishi Corporation buys 50% stake in UCAR Carbon; UCAR Carbon later becomes a publicly traded independent company.

1992 Union Carbide Industrial Gases is spun-off as an independent company. Its name changes to Praxair, Inc.

1994 Sale of Union Carbide's 50.9% interest in Union Carbide India Limited to McLeod Russell is completed and the approximately $90 million from the sale is donated to a charitable trust to build a hospital in Bhopal for the victims.

1995 Union Carbide and Polimeri Europa S.r.l., form a 50-50 ethylene/polyethylene joint venture to produce polyethylene for the European market.

Union Carbide and two partners (Petrochemical Industries Company and Boubyan Petrochemical, both of Kuwait) form Equate Petrochemical Company to build and operate a petrochemicals complex in Kuwait. Products include ethylene, polyethylene and ethylene glycol.

1998 UCC and Petronas (the national oil company of Malaysia) form a joint venture to build a new petrochemical complex in Malaysia to produce ethylene oxide and its derivatives and oxo alcohols and oxo derivatives.

1999 On August 4, Union Carbide and The Dow Chemical Company announce an $11.6 billion transaction that would result in Union Carbide becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company.

2001 On February 6, Union Carbide Corporation becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company.

2006 Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upholds the dismissal of the remaining claims in the 7-year-old Sajido Bano case versus Union Carbide Corporation, thereby denying plaintiffs' motions for class certification, property damages and remediation of the Bhopal plant site in India by Union Carbide. The ruling reaffirms UCC's long-held positions.

Bhopal Disaster

Main article: Bhopal Disaster

The Bhopal Disaster of 1984 was an industrial disaster that was caused by the accidental release of 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) from a Union Carbide India, Limited (UCIL, now known as Eveready Industries India, Limited) pesticide plant partly (50.9%) owned by Union Carbide located in the heart of the city of Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The BBC gives the death toll as nearly 3,000 people dead initially and at least 15,000 from related illnesses since, while Greenpeace cites 20,000 total deaths as a conservative estimate.

According to the Bhopal Medical Appeal, around 500,000 people were exposed to the leaking tables. Approximately 20,000, to this date, are believed to have died as a result; on average, roughly one person dies every day from the effects. Over 120,000 continue to suffer from the effects of the disaster, such as breathing difficulties, cancer, serious birth-defects, blindness, gynaecological complications and other related problems.


  • "Five Minutes Past Midnight in Bhopal" (original title: "Il était minuit cinq à Bhopal"), Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro, 2001. ISBN 0-446-53088-3
  • "The Bhopal Saga - Causes and Consequences of the World's Largest Industrial Disaster", Ingrid Eckerman, 2004. India: Universities Press. ISBN 81-7371-515-7. [1]
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Union_Carbide". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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