Investigation into Bayer CropScience Explosion, April 21
Committee on Energy and Commerce
Chairman Henry A. Waxman
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Chairman Bart Stupak
April 16, 2009
Dear Congressman Henry Waxman, dear Congressman Bart Stupak,
the Coalition against Bayer Dangers, an international network based in Germany, has been monitoring Bayer for 30 years. We´re working on a broad range of issues: emissions of Bayer plants, hazards caused by Bayer products (pesticides, pharmaceuticals, chemicals), accidents in Bayer plants, corporate influence, etc. The group was built up after an explosion in a German Bayer factory in 1978.
In cooperation with groups from West Virginia, among them the People Concerned About MIC, the W.Va. Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the West Virginia Environmental Council, we´ve been working on the Institute plant for several years. Last year, on March 10, we introduced a countermotion to Bayer´s 2008 shareholder meeting in which we stated: “Whereas the volume of supertoxic agents like phosgene and MIC stored at the German BAYER plants was reduced following the Bhopal catastrophe, the tanks in Institute remained as they were. Today, Institute is the only place in the United States where MIC is produced and stored in large volumes.( ) The Bayer Board of Management bears responsibility for the high pollutant emissions, the frequent occurrence of incidents and the constant risks caused by the storage of MIC and phosgene. You can view the complete text on Bayer´s website: http:www.asm2008.bayer.com/en/countermotions.aspx (press “download).
We also spoke in the meeting which took place April 25 – four months ahead of the Institute explosion - in Cologne/Germany. Attending were the Bayer board and supervisory board, the media and about 4,000 shareholders. Again we criticized the frequent spills of chemicals and demanded to dismantle MIC- and phosgene-tanks at Institute. Bayer´s CEO Werner Wenning replied, stating verbatim that the plant had the “newest security installations and an excellent safety record since 2002, that the plant was “explicitly lauded by authorities for its safety record and that no action was necessary.
After the August explosion we demanded in cooperation with local groups that the Institute plant becomes a MIC and phosgene-free facility (see http:www.cbgnetwork.de/2655.html). The joint initiative was covered by the Washington Post, USA Today and many more US media.
Until today the company has not apologized for the gross negligence by which the methomyl unit has been operated for the past years. No changes in the security management have been announced. Particularly disturbing to us is that Bayer´s recently published Annual Report 2008 (see: www.annualreport2008.bayer.com/en/Bayer-Annual-Report-2008.pdfx) does not mention the Institute explosion and the death of their workers with one single word.
We therefore again introduced a countermotion to Bayer´s next shareholder meeting, which takes place May 12. Therein we state: “Highly hazardous substances like phosgene and MIC do not belong in mass production, and certainly not in the vicinity of residential areas. Ever since the company became established, Bayer has endeavored, by exerting pressure and making threats, to suppress information and – even more – criticism. It uses its economic power indiscriminately in order to protect its profits. The truth and the interests of humans and the environment are left by the wayside. The Board of Management and the Supervisory Board have not taken any steps to substantially improve the safety situation in Institute or to enlighten the general public. The full text can be found on Bayer´s website: http:www.asm2009.bayer.com/en/countermotions.aspx.
We ask you to discuss these early warnings and Bayer´s denial of any safety problems within your investigation. Since Bayer dismantled their tanks with highly hazardous substances in Germany we´re demanding they do so also at Institute.
Please find English materials on our campaign at www.cbgnetwork.de/4.html. Please contact us for any questions.
Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany)
Fax: (+49) 211-333 940 Tel: (+49) 211-333 911