THIS IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF UNITED STATES SENATOR JAY ROCKEFELLER.
Washington, D.C. – Senator Jay Rockefeller today released the following statement regarding Bayer CropScience’s announcement that it will reduce the inventory of highly-toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) at its Institute site by 80 percent:
“This is an enormously important step by Bayer. I commend them for the investment in the Institute plant, for their pledge to eliminate all above-ground storage of MIC at the site, and for stating a commitment to their employees. As we approach the one-year anniversary of that tragic explosion, we remember those who lost their lives – and we must reaffirm that safety must always be the bottom line.”
Following the August 28, 2008 explosion at the plant, Rockefeller has backed strong federal efforts to investigate the events surrounding the disaster and improve the public’s access to key information during such incidents.
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Rockefeller called on the Chemical Safety Board to conduct a full investigation and examine options for Bayer to reduce or eliminate the use or storage of MIC in Institute by switching to alternative chemicals or processes.
Additionally, he introduced legislation – which was approved by the Senate – aimed at clarifying federal laws regarding the release of public safety information. In a direct effort to ensure communities have access to important details during local industrial emergencies, his bill would make clear that the Sensitive Security Information (SSI) designation cannot be used to withhold information that is not explicitly covered in its statutes.
According to congressional testimony from representatives of Bayer regarding the explosion, the company sought to designate certain information as SSI to avoid having to publicly disclose and debate about MIC.