Federal Court Extends TRO Blocking MIC Production

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

CHARLESTON, WV (HNN) – A hearing Wednesday, Feb. 23 in U.S. District Court in Charleston extended the temporary restraining order and added an chemical engineering expert to determine if the plant will be allowed to restart production. (See Separate Story)

MIC is the chemical that killed thousands in Bhopal, India after a 1984 leak at a Union Carbide plant.

The 3D animated video produced by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and posted on You Tube depicts the events leading up to the 2008 ayer CropScience explosion. It also illustrates how close the Larvin Unit was to a MIC storage tank.

The Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso warned Friday in separate letters to OSHA and EPA that Bayer has not yet completed important safety precautions. The CSB concluded that the accident occurred due to poor start-up procedures on Bayer's Methomyl-Larvin resulting in the deaths of two workers, Moure-Eraso wrote, and the board is concerned "that a similar pattern is being followed prior to the startup of the MIC unit."

Bayer contends that it has completed 95% of the pre-startup safety review items. Still, its own expert stated that the company had not provided proper documentation of potential hazards in MIC piping and tanks. The report written in July 2010 determined that safety interlocks in the MIC unit, had no formal system for tracking safety recommendations and did not have a time table for complying with all of the OSHA guidance requirements.

The hearing today concerns extending the time frame of the temporary restraining order. Plaintiffs have already filed for injunctive relief.

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