Bayer CropScience to Pay $5.6 Million to Settle Charges Arising from Explosion that Killed Two

Bayer CropScience will pay $5.6 million to settle charges that it violated federal chemical accident prevention laws at its facility in Institute, West Virginia, where an explosion killed two people in 2008.



Bayer was represented by Eileen Millett of Epstein Becker & Green in New York and Alvin Emch of Jackson Kelly in Charleston, West Virginia.

Under the settlement, Bayer CropScience committed to spending $4.23 million to improve emergency preparedness and response in Institute and protect the Kanawha River, pay a $975,000 penalty, and spending approximately $452,000 to implement a series of measures to improve safety at chemical storage facilities across the United States.

Under the settlement, Bayer CropScience will implement a series of steps to prevent future chemical releases at its facilities in West Virginia, Texas, Missouri and Michigan by improving inspections to identify potential safety issues and standardize facility safety operating procedures.

At the facility in Institute, the company will conduct emergency response exercises with local responders and ensure proper certification of facility environmental management systems.  Bayer must complete the majority of these actions within three years.

The nearly $4.23 million for environmental projects will benefit the Institute community by improving mobile communications for local first responders, providing emergency response equipment and training for local fire and police departments, shelter-in-place training and hazardous waste collections at local public schools and installing equipment to prevent pollution from water used in Bayer CropScience’s manufacturing process from reaching the Kanawha River.

Local emergency responders may start receiving equipment as early as December 2015.

The complaint details numerous problems that arose at the pesticide manufacturing facility where the company did not comply with its standard operating procedures designed to prevent accidental releases.

In 2008, a new digital control system was installed, but safety interlock associated with the control system was not properly engaged at startup.

Employees were not fully trained to understand or operate the system and failed to follow procedures for sampling, temperature control and flow safeguards.  The result was an uncontrollable buildup in a treatment unit causing a chemical reaction resulting in the explosion, fire and loss of life.

During the incident, the company delayed emergency officials trying to access the plant, and failed to provide adequate information to 911 operators.



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