a fatal explosion in its Institute/W.Va. plant BAYER lied to the public
and concealed information from firefighters and authorities. A
congressional investigation found that the explosion "came dangerously
close" to compromising an MIC storage tank. Had the blast damaged the
MIC tank, "the consequences could have eclipsed the 1984 disaster in
India." (PHOTO: August 2008:explosion and fire in Bayer Institute factory)
Bayer sells Institute plant back to Dow
CropScience is selling its Institute chemical plant back to Union
Carbide, which is now a part of Dow Chemical Co. The financial terms of
the sale were not immediately disclosed.
CropScience has “divested” itself of the Institute chemical plant site
by selling the facility back to Union Carbide, the site’s former owner
and now a part of Dow Chemical Co., the companies said Monday.
a prepared statement, Bayer said there will be a “phased turnover” of
plant activities, including utilities, emergency response and security,
with full operation of the site by Dow’s Union Carbide unit expected by
mid-2016. The transaction includes transfer of the land, as well as the
majority of the site assets, Bayer said.
Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
Bayer operates one chemical production unit at the 450-acre site, and
other companies — including Dow, Catalyst Refiners, Reagent Chemical and
Praxair — operate separate units as tenants of Bayer. About 500 people
work at the site, but only about 150 of those are employed directly by
Bayer, said Bayer spokesman Greg Coffey.
current plant manager, Jim Covington, said that Bayer would “still have
a presence” at Institute through the ongoing operation of its
thiodicarb insecticide unit.
expect some decline in Bayer employment at Institute over time,”
Covington said. “However, retirements and voluntary separations should
account for essentially all departures.”
Ellis, a media relations manager for Dow, said in a prepared statement
that the deal with Bayer supports Dow’s “sustained focus on optimizing
their resources and presence in West Virginia to create maximum value
for the community, the companies, and their customers.” Dow currently
employs 500 people across its operations in the Kanawha Valley,
including at seven units it operates at the Institute plant, Ellis said.
workers Bill Oxley and Barry Withrow were killed in the Aug. 28, 2008,
explosion in the Bayer plant’s Methomyl-Larvin unit.
January 2011 announcement also included plans to cease production of
carbaryl, the active ingredient in the company’s well-known Sevin brand
pesticide. Aldicarb and carbaryl are both part of the carbamate family
of pesticides, named so because they are made in part with carbamic
acid, and use MIC as a key ingredient. Both products have “in recent
years … been largely substituted by newer products,” Bayer has said.
Since those announcements, Bayer had noted the “gradual closure of production facilities” at Institute as part of its annual report.
said Monday that its manufacturing presence at the site “has declined
over the past several years” following that 2011 decision. “Without
additional production capacity, Bayer CropScience does not have the
critical mass needed to make continued ownership of the site
economically viable,” Covington said.
Institute site was originally built in 1943 as a government operation
to produce synthetic rubber for the war effort. Carbide bought it in
1947, operating it until its sale in December 1986 to a French company,
Rhone-Poulenc. The plant was later bought by Aventis CropScience, and
then by Bayer. Carbide became a subsidiary of Dow in 2001.
by Ken Ward Jr., Staff writer, March 30, 2015, Charleston Gazette
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