Podcast Review: They Knew Which Way to Run

They Knew Which Way to Run is a 7-part podcast about the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and what it means to survive a disaster. The hosts are Apoorva Dixit and Molly Mulroy. Interestingly, Dixit was born in Bhopal but not did learn about the tragedy till she was in the United States. This podcast examines the cause of the disaster, what happened during it, and what its after effects were. There are interviews with survivors, including Dixit’s father, who describe what their experiences were like. This is a moving and powerful podcast that covers a tragedy that will be never forgotten.

In episode one, you learn about the basic facts of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The cause of it was a gas leakage from a tank in a factory owned by Union Carbide Corporation. Hot water was poured into the tank that had residue from of a lethal gas called methyl iscocyanate (MIC). Hot water, residue from MIC, and rust inside tank caused a violent reaction that lead to gas escaping from it. Alarms in the factory were disabled that could have alerted staff and the residents of Bhopal to the leakage. Around 20,000 people died from inhaling gas and 500,000 people suffered from its side effects. Dixit’s father describes how his family survived by leaving Bhopal on a train shortly before gas drifted into the area. Thousands of other people did not have their luck. It is devastating to hear how simple precautions at the Union Carbide Corporation factory could have prevented the deaths and horrific side effects of thousands. 

Survivors describe the horror that they witnessed in episode two. Kamla Bai recounts her husband almost being buried alive because he fainted and was presumed to be deceased.  Rahana Bai talks about how she told her father her mother was still alive in fear that the news would damage his fragile health. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly after Rhana’s mother did. Neealam, Dixit’s aunt, describes the horrifying task she was assigned of identifying the dead and praying a loved one was not under the white sheet that covered them. The stories told are heartbreaking but necessary to listen to as to understand the tragedy at Bhopal. It is moving to hear the stories of the survivors and the strength that they had to tell their stories. 

Dixit and Mulroy talk about the settlement between the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and government of India who represented the victims of gas leak. Though $3.3 billion was asked for on behalf of the victims, the UCC and government of India settled for only $470 million. This low figure is partially the fault of the government of India who prevented victims from filing separate lawsuits. UCC deserves most of the blame for being so greedy and having so many safety violations at the factory.  In comparison, Dixit and Mulroy talk about how Exxon paid $4 after the Valdez oil spill and BP paid $42 billion for Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It is hard to fathom UCC only paying $470 to around 500,000 victims.

In the second part of this episode, the hosts describe a protest by woman in Bhopal for equal pay. Activists such as Rasheeda Bi explain their involvement in marches and protests. The social advocacy movement resulting from the tragedy was enlightening and important to learn about.

I learned about the Bhopal Gas Tragedy briefly in school and I remember only vague details of it before listening to this podcast. I credit the creators of They Knew Which Way To Run for bringing the details of the tragedy to light and describing what occurred. The moving stories from survivors provide valuable insight into the disaster. I recommend They Knew Which Way to Run to anyone who wants to learn about the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and Indian history.

They Knew Which Way to Run can be heard on its website or podcast apps such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and many more.

Due to the graphic nature of content in this podcast, it is recommended for mature audiences only.  

Michael Walsh

Adult Services-Will Library