Sunday, March 29, 2009

Right to Know

Following the deadly incident at the Bayer CropScience facility in the Kanawha Valley, W.Va.

Ken Ward Jr. reported, "OSHA inspectors issued citations for 13 serious and two repeat violations discovered during a six-month probe of the Aug. 28, 2008, explosion and fire that killed plant workers Barry Withrow and Bill Oxley. Among other things OSHA alleged poorly planned operating procedures, flawed emergency systems and faulty employee training led to a runaway reaction that caused the fatal explosion."

Jeff Johnson of Chemical & Engineering News had written an article March 10, 2009 entitled
Safety Board Retreats - Citing antiterrorism law, Bayer pressures Chemical Safety Board to cancel public meeting on fatal accident (it really is a must read all or Jeffs work is great).

You may also view the 911 calls.

Here you will find out that Bayer would not even disclose to the dispatchers what the incident was, what chemicals they may be dealing with or if there may be further complications upon arriving on the scene.

Well in the article it stated "CSB Chairman John Bresland and set up a Feb. 12 conference at the board's Washington, D.C., headquarters. There, they warned CSB not to reveal details of the accident or the facility's layout at the community meeting." and goes on with... "This is where it gets a little strange," Bresland tells C&EN. To justify their request, Bayer attorneys cited the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, an antiterrorism law that requires companies with plants on waterways to develop security plans to minimize the threat of a terrorist attack. Part of the plans can be designated as "sensitive security information" that can be disseminated only on a "need-to-know basis." Enforcement of the act is overseen by the Coast Guard and covers some 3,200 facilities, including 320 chemical and petrochemical facilities. Among those facilities is the Bayer plant.

Well the point is that Bayer doesn't feel anyone has the right to know and this incident just blew my mind. So I checked around to see who was doing what and we all cosigned a letter written to CSB Chairman John Bresland urging him to follow up with his meeting because this community deserves to know what they are dealing with and what dangers are involved.

Bayer is still fighting this but the future plans are now.

*Chemical Safety Board hearing 4/23 (at WVSU in Institute) -- Pre-registration is not required, but to assure adequate seating attendees are encouraged to pre-register by emailing their names and affiliations to by April 10.
*Congressional House Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing 4/21 (in DC)
*State Legislation (Senate Bill 279)
*Bhopal Survivor Tour to Institute 5/1 & 5/2

Several people were involved with a letter writing campaign and you can
Join to brainstorm on how to approach all that's happening right now!
If you would like to contribute and can not be there feel free to email someone at
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Tuesday, March 31st @ 6:30
WVSU Davis Fine Arts Building
(unless otherwise notified)
(please RSVP with me so I can ensure we have enough seats)

Just a little about your Right to Know that is if we still have that right!

In 1986 the congress Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

EPCRA was established to gain knowledge of toxic and hazardous chemicals and is applied to Emergency response, worker and the community.
Located on the EPA’s website are a few of the EPCRA provisions.

Sections 301 to 303. Emergency Planning Local governments are required to prepare chemical emergency response plans, and to review plans at least annually. State governments are required to oversee and coordinate local planning efforts. Facilities that maintain Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHSs) on-site in quantities greater than corresponding Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQs) must cooperate in emergency plan preparation.

Section 304. Emergency Notification Facilities must immediately report accidental releases of EHS chemicals and "hazardous substances" in quantities greater than corresponding Reportable Quantities (RQs) defined under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to state and local officials. Information about accidental chemical releases must be available to the public.

Sections 311 and 312. Community Right-to-Know Requirements Facilities manufacturing, processing, or storing designated hazardous chemicals must make Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) describing the properties and health effects of these chemicals available to state and local officials and local fire departments. Facilities must also report, to state and local officials and local fire departments, inventories of all on-site chemicals for which MSDSs exist. Information about chemical inventories at facilities and MSDSs must be available to the public.

Section 313. Toxics Release Inventory Facilities must complete and submit a Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Form annually for each of the more than 600 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals that are manufactured or otherwise used above the applicable threshold quantities.

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