Bayer Ends Plan for Making Deadly Chemical

Monday, March 21, 2011 @ 10:03 AM gHale

Bayer CropScience will halt a plan to restart production of a deadly chemical at a plant in Institute, W.Va.

Bayer cited delays in restarting the unit that produces methyl isocyanate, or MIC, a chemical that killed thousands in Bhopal, India, in 1984. The company said in a news release it will decommission the MIC unit and associated production units.

The Institute plant is the only one in the nation that still stores MIC in large volumes. Bayer CropScience had closed the MIC unit for renovations. Residents had filed a lawsuit to halt the unit’s restart. Bayer’s announcement came as a hearing was held Friday in the case.

The hearing came after a federal judge late last month extended an order temporarily preventing Bayer CropScience from using the plant to restart production of MIC.

After extending that order, U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, also appointed a chemical engineering expert to assess safety at the Bayer CropScience chemical plant in Institute, which is 10 miles west of Charleston.

Texas A&M professor Sam Mannan had until March 14 to assess the chances of a catastrophe involving MIC at the plant. The order required Mannan to inspect records at the plant to decide whether Bayer’s processes for making, storing and transporting MIC are safe. The order also requires Mannan to assess the risk of a catastrophe involving the chemical.

Bayer CropScience and previous owners had made MIC, a chemical used to make pesticides, in Institute for decades. Production stopped last August, but Bayer CropScience said in January it would start making the chemical again this year and continue through mid-2012, when it would halt the production permanently.

Concern about the chemical struck home after an explosion in a unit near where they produce and store the chemical killed two plant workers in 2008.

Two workers died when a waste tank containing the pesticide methomyl exploded, damaging a process unit at the Bayer CropScience chemical plant. As a result, the Chemical Safety Board issued recommendations and just produced a video on what happened to cause the explosion.

One Response to “Bayer Ends Plan for Making Deadly Chemical”

  1. Bayer Ends Plan for Making Deadly Chemical |…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

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