In 2008, an explosion occurred at a Bayer facility in Institute, West Virginia, killing two people. According to the EPA investigation, a newly installed digital control system at Bayer’s Methomyl Unit, was not properly engaged at start up. Methyl isocyanate is the same chemical that reportedly killed more than 3,400 people when it was accidentally released from a former Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984.
Additionally, the complaint alleged that employees were not fully trained to understand the control system and failed to follow standard operating procedures, which ultimately resulted in triggering a chemical reaction, and explosion, fire, and subsequent loss of life. According to the complaint, following the explosion, the company delayed emergency officials from accessing the plant and failed to provide adequate information to 911 operators.
Under the settlement, Bayer CropScience will spend $4.23 million to improve emergency preparedness and response in the Institute, W.Va. area, pay a $975,000 penalty, and spend approximately $452,000 to implement a series of measures to improve safety at their chemical storage facilities across the United States.
Bayer will also fund 15 protective community-based projects including hazardous chemical cleanouts at 17 area high schools and provide response equipment for responders in eight communities and two police departments.