May 11, 2012
Statement from CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure Eraso on NAS Study on the Use and Storage of MIC at Bayer CropScience
Yesterday the US Chemical Safety Board received a board briefing from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). CSB Board Members and staff will be reviewing the final report in detail over the next few weeks and attending the NAS public meeting in Institute, WV.
The study is the result of a September 2010 contract with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study on the feasibility of reducing or eliminating the inventory of highly toxic methyl isocyanate stored at the Bayer CropScience pesticide manufacturing complex located in Institute, West Virginia, near Charleston.
I look forward to attending the NAS public meeting – our hope is that the National Academy study will serve as an important model for both Bayer and the chemical industry sector about how to assess and reduce toxic chemical hazards and build effective relationships with the surrounding community.
The $575,000 study was mandated by Congress late in 2009 as part of the fiscal year 2010 CSB operating budget and resulted from the tragic August 2008 explosion at the Bayer facility that killed two plant employees and endangered a nearby aboveground storage tank containing approximately 13,000 pounds of methyl isocyanate or MIC. The CSB and a Congressional committee investigated the accident and its aftermath
After sustained public attention to the dangers of MIC after the 2008 accident, in August 2009 Bayer announced measures to reduce the hazards of MIC, including an inventory reduction of approximately 80%. In August 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with Bayer to phase out production of one of two remaining MIC-derived pesticides made at the plant (aldicarb) due to toxicity concerns. That action followed a December 2009 EPA ban on carbofuran, another MIC derivative made in Institute.
The CSB’s investigation of the root causes of the August 2008 explosion at the Bayer plant was released at a public meeting in Institute, West Virginia on January 20, 2011. The final report, safety recommendations and safety video are available at www.csb.gov.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.
For more information, contact Hillary Cohen, 202-446-8094 (cell).