Bayor Trying to Limit Disclosure on Chemical Pesticide Explosion

Last August, Bayor CropScience was witness to a tremendous chemical explosion that killed two employees and raised fears in the surrounding West Virginia community.

A federal agency is now trying to set a public hearing to outline it’s preliminary findings as to the explosion’s cause.

In an unprecedented move, Bayor is trying to limit what is disclosed by citing a terrorism-related federal law.

With a dock for managing large shipments on the adjacent Kanawha River, Bayor is claiming its 400-acre site falls under the 2002 Maritime Transportation Security Act.  Since the Coast Guard has jurisdiction under this act, Bayor has asked it to review any release of “sensitive security information.”

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board says that in its 11 years of operation, this is the first time the maritime act has been invoked in this way and the first time a company has tried to limit such public discussions.

Bayor apparently wants to limit revealing potential hazards posed by the chemical methyl isocyanate – a chemical used in the production of carbonate pesticides that  their plant produces and that’s reponisible for the deaths in Bhopal, India of thousands of people after a leak in a Union Carbide plant in 1984.

If Bayor is successful, this could set a precedent to limit information by other chemical companies.

After invoking the maritime act, the chemical agency cancelled its initial meeting, attempting to resolve the dispute.

Representative Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, scheduled a hearing to review the company’s action.

“We are concerned about the way Bayer may be misusing terrorism laws to suppress information related to the incident,” said Stupak.

According to a Coast Guard spokesman, Bayor may indeed be a “regulated facility”, allowing them to protect information.

Yet another example of a large corporation seeking to deny culpability by attempting to sweep the facts under the rug, attempting to play out the old adage of “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”.