Safety Report: Chem Plant Blast

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 @ 01:06 PM gHale

It’s been nearly four years since a Bayer CropScience chemical plant explosion in Institute, WV, rocked the community and alarmed safety and health experts across the country.

There are now recommendations coming out from a panel of researchers for safer manufacturing of a dangerous chemical called methyl isocyanate (MIC) at the plant.

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“There are a set of protocols that allow one to be able to do chemical manufacturing in a safer environment,” said research panel chair Elsa Reichmanis said.

Their suggestions included changes in technology and equipment design, hoping to minimize the risk of error in the process.

Area residents listened to the panel members give the report, and they said they appreciated the work but were more interested in hearing about the reason behind all of the research.

“I don’t think they emphasized the effect on people,” attendee Greggsuzanne McAllister said. “I think everything should be couched in terms of the human factor.”

“Not only was I in danger but now my children are in danger,” said Donna Willis, another area resident. “And if they stay here, their children will be in danger too.”

WIllis hopes government officials will take the results of the study seriously — for the sake of the community.

“My concern is that it won’t go anywhere,” Willis said. “It’ll just be a piece of paper that is funneled through the system.”

Researchers like Reichmanis know change will not happen overnight, but they remain optimistic.

“There is a much better understanding between the industries and the community at this point,” Willis said. “They do work together.”

Community members remained disappointed that no representatives from Bayer CropScience attended the report meeting.

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