FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2009
Institute Explosion: Bayer CEO Disputes Congress Findings
On Tuesday, May 12, the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, an international network based in Germany that has been monitoring Bayer for 30 years, introduced People Concerned About MIC concerns and demands along with a formally countermotion at Bayer´s annual stockholder meeting in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Attending the meeting were Bayer´s CEO Werner Wenning as well as the complete Board of Management and their Supervisory Board and stockholders in the company. The countermotion introduced by the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers states:
The safety situation at BAYER's facility in Institute, West Virginia, remains critical. Nowhere in the United States are larger quantities of the deadly chemical methyl isocyanate (MIC) produced and stored. Serious accidents occur there on a regular basis. The risks to the workforce and the population are high. For decades, residents have been calling for the hazardous phosgene and MIC tanks to be dismantled.
At last year's Annual Stockholders' Meeting, BAYER CEO Werner Wenning rejected any need for action. He said that the plants conformed to the "latest safety standards" and had an "excellent incident rate".
Despite these mollifications, the next serious accident in the plant happened four months later, on August 28, 2008. In the pesticides production plant, a storage tank exploded and a fire ball a dozen meters tall rose over the building. Two workers lost their lives and thousands of residents were not allowed to leave their houses for several hours.
The entire countermotion can be downloaded at www.asm2009.bayer.com/en/countermotions.aspx.
Even though documents released during the Congressional investigation clearly indicate Bayer plant official Mike Wey stating that “the series of analyzers to monitor MIC in the Larvin unit (were) out of service for maintenance repair, Bayer´s CEO Werner Wenning responded to the countermotion by saying “air detectors showed there were no increased levels of chemicals in the air. CEO Wenning also responded by saying that “security installations were working and that “any comparison with Bhopal is deceptive. Congressional investigators concluded some weeks ago that the Aug. 28 explosion "came dangerously close" to compromising an MIC storage tank. Had the residue treater hit the MIC tank, "the consequences could have eclipsed the 1984 disaster in India."
Twenty-five years after the Bhopal disaster, Kanawha Valley residents are the only people in the United States living, working, and studying next to a chemical plant that still maintains methyl isocyanate (MIC) storage. People Concerned About MIC (PCMIC) concerns that Bayer cannot, or will not, manage the storage of highly toxic chemicals responsibly were shared at the meeting along with the encouragement to follow practices adopted in Germany of eliminating stockpiles of highly toxic chemicals.
People Concerned About MIC is a community organization in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia dedicated to the protection of health and safety of all who reside, work, and study in the vicinity of local chemical plants producing highly toxic chemicals. The group formed because concerned community members learned that methyl isocyanate (or commonly referred to as M-I-C), the same chemical that killed and injured hundreds of thousands of people in Bhopal, India in 1984, was being produced in their backyard.
The Coalition against Bayer Dangers works on a broad range of issues including emissions of Bayer plants, hazards caused by Bayer products (pesticides, pharmaceuticals, chemicals), accidents in Bayer plants, corporate influence on politics and society, etc. The group was built up after an explosion in a German Bayer factory in 1978.
Coalition Against Bayer Dangers at http://www.cbgnetwork.de/2627.html
People Concerned About MIC at http://www.peopleconcernedaboutmic.com
Congressional Hearing: http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1583&catid=133&Itemid=73