On Dec 28 in Bayer´s Institute plant a chemical called thiodicarb vented from drums that decomposed. Thiodicarb is a highly dangerous pesticide, the World Health Organisation classifies it as “extremely hazardous” (see also a letter to Bayer´s CEO signed by 154 groups that demands the withdrawal of Bayer´s most toxic pesticides:

see also: Bayer plant still home to MIC stockpile / MIC killed thousands in Bhopal

December 29, 2007, Charleston Gazette

Bayer's odor alert called 'abysmal'

Carper chides chemical plant over slim information about widespread stench on Friday

Hundreds of people in the Kanawha Valley woke up Friday morning to a strong odor coming from the Bayer CropScience chemical plant in Institute. Officials at the plant maintained throughout Friday that the unpleasant scent was caused by a leak that was too small to pose a public health hazard. However, the smell, described as a cabbage-type odor, was evident across a large area of land, causing headaches and alarm among many people, said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper. At least one man in St. Albans was hospitalized. As of Friday afternoon, the man was still in the emergency room, according to a Metro 911 employee.

Carper criticized the lack of communication from Bayer and questioned whether the reaction from plant officials was adequate, considering the potency of the smell. "How could it be a controlled event when the chemical release could be smelled clear down in Putnam County?" he asked Friday afternoon.

Sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning, a chemical called thiodicarb had vented from three drums that decomposed, causing the smell, Bayer said in a news release. Thiodicarb is an ingredient widely used in agricultural insecticides. "One of the materials created in the decomposition was dimethyldisulfide, which has a very pungent odor that the human nose can detect at extremely low concentrations," the release stated.

Bayer first notified dispatchers about an incident Friday around 12:30 a.m., and plant officials continued to call 911 dispatchers throughout the morning. However, they didn't provide emergency officials with any information about the extent of the incident, type of chemical involved or safety measures people should take, according to recordings of the calls acquired by the Gazette. Meanwhile, dispatchers at Metro 911 became "slammed" with calls from dozens of people concerned about the strong odor, Carper said.

"I just woke up and I smell something terrible in our house," one caller said. "Can you tell me if there's a chemical leak?" another caller asked. "Oh my God, it's awful. I mean it's in our house." Several callers wondered if there was a health risk. Dispatchers often told them that there wasn't.

Those dispatchers had little to tell the callers because of a lack of information provided by Bayer, Carper said. Classifying it only as a minor event, no other details about what had happened were given to county emergency officials until several hours after plant officials cleared the site at 5:50 a.m., Carper said. "The notification was just absolutely abysmal from Bayer," he said. "Information given to the first responders was so inadequate that no one knew totally what to do. "We knew this was going to be an event that was going to understandably cause public concern," he said. "I mean there was stink all over the place."

Bayer spokesman Tom Dover said the company supports and counts on the 911 system, as well as the news media, to deliver important messages to the public. "There's always room for improvement," Dover said, "and we'll be continuing to work with them to address any concerns that they have."

Carper said he didn't fully know what had happened until he met with plant manager Donald Elswick around 11 a.m. Even then, he said, he didn't know how to take what he was told because of the large amount of area covered by the odor. "I'm going to trust, but verify," he said. "I'm not a chemical expert." Carper said he plans to have county emergency officials critique Friday's incident and possibly revisit the requirements for chemical companies to follow during future situations. (By James I. Davison)

December 28, 2007

County Calls for Investigation of Leak at Institute Plant

Kanawha County officials are calling for a complete review of a chemical plant incident Friday morning.
Early Friday, there were reports that a chemical used to make insecticide leaked from a plastic drum at Bayer CropScience plant in Institute.
The chemical is called Thiodicarb, and plant officials say it poses no health hazards, but does have a strong smell.
However, Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said after meeting with a Bayer official, they learned three drums of Thiodicarb ruptured.
Carper further learned that there were another ten drums that could have ruptured.
Carper said this was not a "minor event" as Bayer officials claimed. The commissioner vows new protocols will be set in place for future incidents.

January 09, 2008 Charleston Gazette

Odors reported around Bayer plant

# 911 receives calls about blue cloud and strong smell

By Rusty Marks
Staff writer

Reports of strong odors around the Bayer CropScience chemical plant in Institute are continuing.

On Monday, Metro 911 dispatchers received several calls about a bad odor and strange blue cloud in the area of the plant.

The reports came barely a week after hundreds of people complained about strong odors coming from the Institute plant. At least one person was hospitalized because of the smell.

On Dec. 28, 911 dispatchers were flooded with calls from Kanawha Valley residents reporting a cabbagelike odor. Bayer officials attributed the smell to a minor release of a chemical called thiodicarb, an ingredient often used in insecticides.

Company officials said not enough of the chemical escaped to pose a health threat, but Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper blasted the company for failing to notify emergency service officials or the public about the nature of the release for several hours.

“The notification was just absolutely abysmal from Bayer,” Carper said after the Dec. 28 incident. “Information given to the first responders was so inadequate that no one knew totally what to do.”

Complaints about odors near the plant have continued to come in to Metro 911. Emergency service officials said Tuesday that they received complaints about lingering odors in the Nitro and St. Albans areas near the plant on Dec. 29 and 31, and complaints about odors and the strange haze near the plant on Monday.

“If there are leaks they’re supposed to tell us,” Carper said Tuesday. “Everybody’s denying there are any leaks, but we keep getting these reports.”

Bayer spokesman Tom Dover said even plant employees reported a haze at the plant this week. But he said no chemical leak or other aspect of the plant’s production could be found to explain the haze.

A walkthrough of the chemical facility on Tuesday found no odors or explanation for the haze either, Dover said.

“We’re not aware of any odors,” he said. “If there were any in the area, we were not the cause.”

Last week, officials for the state Department of Environmental Protection cited the Institute plant for three air pollution violations for incidents on Nov. 16, Dec. 20 and Dec. 28.

On Nov. 16, a spill of about 100 pounds of Rhodimet — a chemical used in animal feed — caused bad odors that lasted for 10 days, DEP inspectors found. Residents in St. Albans also reported odors from a faulty tank at the facility’s wastewater treatment plant on Dec. 20.

The Dec. 28 thiocarb release could be smelled up and down the Kanawha Valley and into neighboring Putnam County, DEP officials said.

Dover said Bayer officials received the letter this week. He said company officials were working with the state to address the problems.

January 11, 2008, Charleston Gazette

WVSU president Carter criticizes Bayer response

West Virginia State University President Hazo Carter has joined the ranks of local officials criticizing management at Bayer CropScience in Institute for its response to a Dec. 28 chemical leak.

A small amount of a chemical called thiodicarb vented from three drums at the plant, causing a cabbagelike odor that could be smelled up and down the Kanawha Valley and into neighboring Putnam County.
Company officials said the amount of chemical released was too small to pose a health hazard, but it took several hours to notify Metro 911 and other emergency responders about the exact nature of the spill.

According to Carter, Bayer officials didn't bother to notify anyone at West Virginia State, either. The university is located practically next door to the plant.

In a letter to plant manager Nick Crosby, Carter complained that university staff learned of the chemical spill through radio and television reports.
"After belatedly learning of the incident, West Virginia State University officials initiated contact with the Bayer plant to confirm that an incident had occurred," Carter wrote. "At the university's request, Bayer security staff sent a radio to our Work Control Center. This effort to facilitate communication was appreciated, although approximately 12 hours had passed and the university initiated contact with the plant."
Carter also noted that an emergency phone line set up several years ago to notify university staff about incidents at the Bayer plant didn't work.
"I strongly emphasize to you that we who live, work and study in the local community expect that a sincere effort will be made by the Bayer plant personnel to inform their neighbors in a timely manner when plant incidents outside the norm occur," Carter wrote.