(04/22/2009)
Kanawha County officials spoke their minds yesterday on Capitol Hill, describing secretive and harmful behavior by a Kanawha County plant.

Officials took part in a congressional hearing about an explosion at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute last August where two workers died.

Officials say the company kept secret what actually was happening during the explosion, saying they failed to notify 911 about the chemicals involved in the explosion and fire, putting thousands of Kanawha County residents at risk.

"Had I known then what I know right now I would have ordered an evacuation," said Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper.

Carper has indicated the behavior of Bayer is despicable in relation to public safety.

Investigators found that during the explosion pieces of equipment were hurled through the plant.

Some of that debris landed near the area where the deadly chemical MIC is housed, reports say.

House Committee members questioned Bayer CropScience site manager Nick Crosby about the company's delay in response, after which he blamed plant personnel.

Personnel, on a 911 tape, said they followed company policy.

Investigators continue to have a hard time learning about the incident.

John Bresland, an official with the U.S. Chemical and Safety Board, said that the issue of secret sensitive information has kept them from getting all the details they need.

Certain information concerning MIC has to be kept a secret, according to Bayer CropScience, because it is at risk of terrorist attacks.

The U.S. Chemical and Safety Board will release their preliminary findings Thursday.

A public hearing will be held on the West Virginia State University Campus at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.


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