Bayer Tried to Hide Details of Explosion that Killed Two

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Residents of Institute, West Virginia, were fortunate they did not become the next Bhopal when an explosion occurred last August at a Bayer chemical plant containing large quantities of the same chemical that killed thousands in India in 1984. A congressional inquiry into the dangerous episode has revealed that plant managers refused initially to tell firefighters what exactly had happened and what toxic chemical was released, and Bayer officials later tried to avoid turning over important documents to federal investigators.

The explosion at Bayer CropScience killed two employees, and fumes released into the air sickened six volunteer firefighters. Even more ominous was the fact that the explosion sent a tank weighing several thousand pounds flying through the plant, which stores large quantities of methyl isocyanate (MIC), the same chemical that was released by a Union Carbide plant in India 25 years ago. Coincidentally, the Bayer plant was once owned by Union Carbide.
The House subcommittee investigation also learned that chemical detection devices at the Bayer plant had been disabled and video cameras disconnected. Bayer officials also refused to turn over records to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, the federal office that probes chemical accidents in the U.S. Even when the company did comply and provide documentation, it labeled thousands of pages “security sensitive” in an effort to derail the investigation, concluded Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI).
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Bayer Withheld Details of Fatal Blast in Calls to 911 (by Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette)


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