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KEYCODE BAYER 405

March 26, 2009

Judith L. Wellington, Ph.D.
President and CEO Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia

Open Letter: Reject Bayer Endowment

Dear Judith Wellington,

the Clay Center´s current exhibit “Out of this World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television” is sponsored by Bayer CropScience.

In our opinion the Arts&Science Center shouldn´t accept money from Bayer. We urge you to stop this cooperation.

Bayer has a long history of giving precedence to profits over human rights and a sound environment. The corporation has fought against almost all agreements on environmental issues, be it the Kyoto Protocol for the protection of the climate, the new European laws on chemicals, the phasing out of CFCs or recent efforts to reduce the use of pesticides.

We have documented hundreds of cases when Bayer products or factories have harmed people or the environment. The company has only stopped the production of hazardous products when pressured to do so by the public.

The Clay Center is not the only institution to cooperate with Bayer. In fact the company initiated hundreds of partnerships and sponsorships with universities, medical societies, environmental groups or educational organizations. Bayer has been abusing these cooperations to deflect criticism by watchdog groups or the media and to exploit the good image of their partners to present a corporate humanitarian image.

It is not difficult to tell why Bayer CropScience is trying to get a better image in the Charleston area: At Bayer's Institute plant, large quantities of highly toxic chemicals are produced. Among these chemicals are methyl isocyanate (MIC), the chemical that killed and injured over 100,000 in Bhopal, India, and phosgene, a nerve agent used in World War I. The plant has a long history of accidents and leaks in which several workers were injured and killed, and hundreds of residents had to be treated in hospitals. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited Bayer for 13 serious safety violations.

Bayer took over ownership of the factory in 2001 as part of the acquisition of Aventis CropScience. Whilst the volume of supertoxic agents like phosgene and MIC stored at German Bayer plants was reduced following the Bhopal catastrophe, the tanks at Institute remained as they were. Today, Institute is the only place in the United States where MIC is produced and stored in such large volumes. At least twice the amount of MIC that escaped at Bhopal is constantly present in the factory. A 1994 worst-case scenario analysis determined that in the event of a Maximum Credible Accident (MCA), cases of fatal poisoning could occur over a radius of nearly ten miles.

Following the August 28th explosion in which two workers died, Bayer refused crucial information. Local emergency responders weren't sure what to do for several hours after the blast. In case of a toxic release, thousands of residents would have been endangered. This event even led to an inititive of governor Joe Manchin to introduce new emergency reporting guidelines for the chemical industry. The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold an investigation into the explosion on April 23.

Please find more materials on hazards of Bayer´s Institute plant. We ask you to refrain from this cooperation. Please contact us for any questions.

Philipp Mimkes
Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany)

Tammy Miser, President/Executive Director
United Support & Memorial For Workplace Fatalities (USMWF)
tammy@usmwf.org, http://www.usmwf.org

July 6, 2009

Judith L. Wellington, Ph.D.
President and CEO Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia
Charleston, WV 25301

Exhibition “Costumes from Film and Television”

Dear Judith Wellington,

in a letter to you dated March 26 we urged you to reject the endowment Bayer offered for the exhibition “Costumes from Film and Television”. We wrote that “Bayer has been abusing these cooperations to deflect criticism by watchdog groups or the media and to exploit the good image of their partners to present a corporate humanitarian image.” We then continued “it is not difficult to tell why Bayer CropScience is trying to get a better image in the Charleston area: At Bayer's Institute plant, large quantities of highly toxic chemicals are produced. (…) Following the August 28th explosion in which two workers died, Bayer refused crucial information. Local emergency responders weren't sure what to do for several hours after the blast. In case of a toxic release, thousands of residents would have been endangered.”

Unfortunately we never received your answer. In the meantime the US Congress conducted an investigation on the explosion. The outcome confirms our apprehensions, here are two key findings:
· "Evidence obtained by the committee demonstrates that Bayer engaged in a campaign of secrecy by withholding critical information from local, county and state emergency responders; by restricting the use of information provided to federal investigators; by undermining news outlets and citizen groups concerned about the dangers posed by Bayer's activities; and by providing inaccurate and misleading information to the public."
· the explosion came dangerously close to compromising another nearby tank filled with several tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC), an extremely toxic chemical that killed approximately 4,000 people after a leak in Bhopal, India, in 1984. Had this projectile struck the MIC tank, the consequences could have eclipsed the 1984 disaster in India.
You can view the complete findings at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1583&catid=133&Itemid=73

The US Congress also published Bayer´s internal “Community Relations Strategy”. This concept does not contain any suggestions how to improve security standards. However, it does contain numerous proposals about how to improve their image by local sponsorships. The strategy contains a list of “events/opportunities for reputation enhancement & public interaction” in which several bullet points are dealing with the Clay Center:
· Sponsorship of Clay Center Art Gallery's "Out of this World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television" exhibit at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences (Exhibit includes costumes from the most popular adventure and science fiction Hollywood blockbusters), Friday, February 6th
· Clay Center member's reception (light hors d'oeuvres and beverages provided by the Clay Center) to kick-off the exhibit (Tom Dover and others from BCS to be present), Exhibit runs from Saturday. February 7 through Sunday, May 10th
· A large banner on the side of the building with our BCS logo as the lead sponsor during the duration of the event,
· Thank you slide recognition in the Clay Center's Electric Sky Theater during the run of the exhibit,
· Recognition in the spring edition of the Clay centets quarterly member's newsletter,
· Recognition on advertising, signage and collateral materials relating to the exhibit including posters,
· flyers, and newspaper advertisements, including a press release announcing the exhibit.
· Sponsor's reception at Clay Center for up to 75 guests of our choosing where the Clay Center provides an open bar and hors d'oeuvres as part of our Out of This World sponsorship - Wednesday, February 18 (Date may be changed subject to Clay Center approval/availability)
You can find the 20 MB memo (pages 68-76) at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090421/emergencydocs.pdf

The papers clearly prove that it was Bayer´s intention to misuse the sponsorship with the Clay Center and other local institutions to distract attention away from their deficiencies and to “greenwash” their image. Now that the exhibition is over we would highly welcome your assertion not to engage in further cooperations with this company.

Awaiting your answer

Philipp Mimkes
Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany)
www.CBGnetwork.org, CBGnetwork@aol.com

Tammy Miser, President/Executive Director
United Support & Memorial For Workplace Fatalities (USMWF)
tammy@usmwf.org, http://www.usmwf.org