(04/23/2009)
FEDERAL PROSECUTORS LOOKING AT BAYER EXPLOSION

Earth Day, 2009, is noted in West Virginia by revelations that a chemical corporation tried to secret their problems, which could have placed tens of thousands of Kanawha valley residents in danger.

A community meeting is scheduled today in Institute to answer the community's questions about the August 2008 explosion at the Bayer CropScience plant.

The meeting follows Tuesday's congressional hearing that revealed the explosion could have been a repeat of the disaster in Bhopal, India, which killed thousands.

It was disturbing news for residents of the Kanawha Valley, says the Charleston Gazette.

The explosion last August that killed two plant workers came unsettlingly close to causing widespread death and destruction.

The Washington subcommittee determined that Bayer engaged in a "campaign of secrecy" to cloak the event from the government and the community.

The incident started with the company failing to appropriately notify Kanawha 911 regarding the disaster.

"The investigation report from the Chemical Safety Board indicated that the fence line monitors around the plant were not working the night of the explosion, yet Bayer chooses to continue to use the argument that the public was not in danger because they had no indication from their monitoring system that anything was leaving the vent of the plant," said Maya Nye, spokeswoman for the community group People Concerned About MIC—the chemical behind the Bhopal disaster.

Bayer's Institute plant is the only place in the United States that stockpiles MIC, which Bayer uses to manufacture an insecticide.

The congressional report called the explosion "particularly ominous and unnerving."

The Charleston Gazette reported that's because the explosion took place only 80 feet from the dangerous MIC tanks.

"Mere chance prevented a projectile from hitting the tank and if it had, the consequences could have eclipsed the 1984 disaster in India," said the report.

The report is critical of a public relations strategy by Bayer and Ann Green Communications to marginalize local groups concerned about the explosion, as well as the Charleston Gazette, the newspaper reporting about the companies failures and attempted cover-ups.


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