Explosion rocks Bayer's West Virginia plant
On August 28, an explosion at the Bayer chemical plant in Institute, West Virginia, created a fireball that lit the sky and shook the ground miles away. One worker was killed and another suffered third-degree burns. The blast erupted in a 4,000-gallon tank in the part of the plant that produces mythomyl, a chemical used in the manufacture of the insecticide Larvin (active ingredient thiodicarb - a PAN Dirty Dozen pesticide). Mike Dorsey, chief of homeland security for the state Department of Environmental Protection, told the Charleston Gazette that "the incident could have been far worse, given the location of the explosion." The process uses methyl isocyanate (MIC), the same chemical that killed thousands when the West Virginia's "sister plant" in Bhopal exploded in 1984. Noting that "Bayer has to make clear which amounts of which substances escaped into the air," Coalition against Bayer Dangers spokesperson Philipp Mimkes told the press: "We repeat our demand that MIC and phosgene stockpiles at Institute have to be dismantled." This was not the first incident at the West Virginia plant. Previous explosions in 1985 and 1994 killed two workers, and a 1996 leak and fire forced residents to "shelter in place." In 2007, dozens of neighbors were hospitalized after drums of thiodicarb ruptured. (Thiodicarb manufacture has been banned in the European Union.) A U.S. EPA survey reported that even under normal operating conditions the plant releases dangerous pollutants. In 2006, the facility released more than 300 tons of c pollutants -- including 200 kilograms of MIC and four tons of chlorine. The Institute plant accounts for 95% of MIC emissions nationwide.
Find out more about Bayer: Bayer AG is a multinational, multi-industry corporation. In 2002, it restructured itself as a holding company to facilitate better management of its diverse investments, which include crop sciences, polymers, chemicals and health care. Over the years Bayer AG has been associated with terrible environmental scandals, bad labor practices and public health issues. The following is a brief overview of Bayer AG with an emphasis on its Bayer CropScience division: http://www.panna.org/resources/caia/corpProfilesBayer