Issue Date: August 31, 2009
Bayer To Cut Use Of Methyl Isocyanate
Bayer CropScience announced last week it would reduce by 80% its inventory of methyl isocyanate (MIC) at its Charleston, W.Va., facility. The announcement comes almost exactly one year from the date of a plant accident that killed two workers and led to investigations by the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and Congress of the accident’s cause, the plant’s operation, and problems in Bayer’s emergency response system (C&EN, May 11, page 25). Bayer will spend $25 million over the next year to cut MIC storage at the plant and will eliminate production of two pesticides whose manufacture depended on MIC, the compound that caused several thousand deaths in Bhopal, India, in 1984. Bayer’s manufacturing line that exploded last year used MIC and will not be rebuilt. For the two remaining production lines that depend on MIC, the compound will be kept “in downsized, double-walled underground storage units,” a Bayer plant official tells C&EN, adding that MIC will be used “as needed to meet the real-time production needs.” Bayer adds that no jobs will be eliminated. CSB officials and local residents applaud the company’s decision. CSB’s investigation will be completed early next year.
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