1


Introduction

In August 2008, an explosion of a pressurized vessel, known as a residue treater, at the Bayer CropScience (Bayer) facility in Institute, West Virginia resulted in the deaths of two plant employees, a fire within the production unit, and extensive damage to nearby structures.1 of particular relevance to this report, one of the structures hit by debris from the explosion was an aboveground 6,700-gallon storage tank of methyl isocyanate (MIC) protected by a steel “blast mat”. The tank was located approximately 70 feet from the site of the explosion and, at the time, contained approximately 6.8 tons of liquid MIC, a volatile, toxic chemical. The proximity of this tank to the explosion caused concern, given that a release of over 40 tons of MIC from a chemical facility in Bhopal, India in 1984 resulted in the immediate death of more than 3,000 people in the vicinity and additional mortality and morbidity of 100,000-200,000 individuals. (See Chapter 2 for more information.)

During an investigation of the 2008 explosion in West Virginia by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), the proximity of the tank to the explosion and the protections surrounding it were given careful consideration. Although the MIC tank at the Bayer facility was protected from the heat and debris of the blast by the steel protective shield, the CSB determined from its investigation that “had the residue treater traveled unimpeded in the direction of the day tank and struck the shield structure just above the top of the MIC

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1 A full discussion of the accident and its subsequent investigation by the United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) can be found in the Board’s January 2011 report number 2008-08-I-WV, “Investigation Report: Pesticide Chemical Runaway Reaction Pressure Vessel Explosion (Two Killed, Eight Injured)”.



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1 Introduction In August 2008, an explosion of a pressurized vessel, known as a residue treater, at the Bayer CropScience (Bayer) facility in Institute, West Virginia resulted in the deaths of two plant employees, a fire within the production unit, and extensive damage to nearby structures.1 Of particular relevance to this report, one of the structures hit by debris from the explosion was an aboveground 6,700-gallon storage tank of methyl isocyanate (MIC) protected by a steel “blast mat”. The tank was located approximately 70 feet from the site of the explosion and, at the time, contained approximately 6.8 tons of liquid MIC, a volatile, toxic chemical. The proximity of this tank to the explosion caused concern, given that a release of over 40 tons of MIC from a chemical facility in Bhopal, India in 1984 resulted in the immediate death of more than 3,000 people in the vicinity and additional mortality and morbidity of 100,000-200,000 individuals. (See Chapter 2 for more information.) During an investigation of the 2008 explosion in West Virginia by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), the proximity of the tank to the explosion and the protections surrounding it were given careful consider- ation. Although the MIC tank at the Bayer facility was protected from the heat and debris of the blast by the steel protective shield, the CSB determined from its investigation that “had the residue treater traveled unimpeded in the direction of the day tank and struck the shield structure just above the top of the MIC 1 A full discussion of the accident and its subsequent investigation by the United States Chemi - cal Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) can be found in the Board’s January 2011 report number 2008-08-I-WV, “Investigation Report: Pesticide Chemical Runaway Reaction Pressure Vessel Explosion (Two Killed, Eight Injured)”. 21

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22 USE AND STORAGE OF METHYL ISOCYANATE (MIC) AT BAYER CROPSCIENCE day tank, the shield structure might have impacted the relief valve vent pipe. A puncture or tear in the vent pipe or MIC day tank head would have released MIC vapor into the atmosphere above the day tank.” (CSB, 2011) In 2009, while the investigation was still underway, John Bresland, Chairman of the CSB, stated in testimony before Congress, Although the MIC tank and the blast mat escaped serious damage on August 28, there is reason for concern. This was potentially a serious near miss, the results of which might have been catastrophic for workers, responders, and the public. . . . There are hypothetical scenarios where the MIC storage tank could have been compromised during the August 28 explosion, either by powerful projectiles or by a collision with the residue treater vessel, had it traveled in that direction. Any release of MIC into the atmosphere is cause for great concern.” (Bresland, 2009) As a result of this information and additional testimony provided at the hear- ing, the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, requested that the CSB (Waxman et al., 2009): 1. ”Conduct an investigation to determine options for Bayer to reduce or eliminate the use or storage of MIC at its West Virginia facility by switching to alternative chemicals or processes and the estimated cost of these alternatives; 2. Determine whether Bayer has adequately examined the feasibility of switching to alternative chemicals or processes; 3. Provide in its final report specific recommendations for Bayer and its state and federal regulators on how to reduce the dangers posed by onsite storage of MIC; and 4. Brief our staff on the Board’s findings and recommendations at the end of its investigation.” As a result of this request, the 111th Congress provided funds to the CSB “for a study by the National Academy of Sciences [NAS] to examine the use and storage of methyl isocyanate including the feasibility of implementing alternative chemicals or processes and an examination of the cost of alternatives at the Bayer CropScience facility in Institute, West Virginia” (H.R. Rep.No.111-316, 111st Cong., 1st Sess. [2009]). This report presents the findings and conclusions of the NRC study committee convened to perform this examination. STATEMENT OF TASK On August 26, 2009, Bayer announced in a press release (Bayer CropScience, 2009) that it would “reduce methyl isocyanate (MIC) storage by 80 percent” at the facility and eliminate aboveground storage of MIC. The company stated that it would cease production of MIC-based products within a year, and that it would

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23 INTRODUCTION “continue to evaluate the feasibility of further measures, which may also include the use of alternative process technologies.” MIC production and primary storage occurred at the East Carbamoylation Center along with the manufacture of car- baryl and aldicarb. The aboveground MIC storage and production of methomyl, thiodicarb, carbosulfan, and carbofuran were in the West Carbamoylation Center. Everyday, MIC was transferred from the primary storage facility to the above- ground day-use storage tank. By ceasing production of methomyl and carbofuran, Bayer was able to remove the need for the aboveground tank. This change allowed for reduction in storage capacity. In addition, a new MIC underground storage facility would be built in the East Carbamoylation Center to accommodate the change in production quantity. In April 2010, in response to the mandate from Congress and acknowledging the 80 percent reduction plan, the CSB issued a draft statement of task for the National Academies in the Federal Register and solicited public comment on the language. The National Academies began its work in early September 2010 under the finalized statement of task, which can be read in Box 1.1 and Appendix A. This report contains the consensus findings, conclusions, and recommendation developed in response to this task. DEVELOPMENTS IN WEST VIRGINIA A number of significant changes occurred at the Bayer facility during the course of the study. A timeline of the events can be found in Figure 1.1, and additional details are provided below. On August 16, 2010, prior to the National Research Council (NRC) begin - ning its work, Bayer announced that, as part of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it would voluntarily cancel the registration of aldicarb (Temik) for use in or on the remaining crops for which the pesticide was being used, including potatoes, citrus, cotton, and peanuts. As part of the phase- out agreement, farmers would be allowed to continue to use aldicarb on potatoes and citrus until the end of 2011. For all other crops, production would end by December 2014, distribution and sale of aldicarb would end by December 2016, and growers’ stocks should be exhausted by August 2018. Citing this agreement and global restructuring of its parent company, on January 11, 2011 Bayer announced that “the production of certain carbamates is no longer economically viable for Bayer CropScience.” (Bayer CropScience, 2011b) The company’s intention was to finalize the modifi - cations to the MIC plant at Institute; restart manufacturing of aldicarb, carbaryl, and the intermediate materials required for their production, including MIC; and continue manufacturing those materials until mid-2012. On January 20, 2011, the CSB released its report on the 2008 accident. Key findings from the investigation identified weaknesses in the following areas: the process hazard analysis, the pre-startup safety review, the startup procedures for

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24 USE AND STORAGE OF METHYL ISOCYANATE (MIC) AT BAYER CROPSCIENCE BOX 1.1 Statement of Task for the Committee on the Use and Storage of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) at Bayer CropScience The National Research Council will produce a detailed written report, conclusions, and recommendations where appropriate on the following subjects: 1. Review the current industry practice for the use and storage of methyl isocyanate (MIC) in manufacturing processes, including a sum­ mary of key lessons and conclusions arising from the 1984 Bhopal accident and resulting changes adopted by industrial users of MIC. 2. Review current and emerging technologies for producing carba­ mate pesticides, including carbaryl, aldicarb, and related compounds. The review should include: 2.1. Synthetic methods and patent literature 2.2. Manufacturing approaches used worldwide for these materials 2.3. Manufacturing costs for different synthetic routes 2.4. Environmental and energy costs and trade­offs for alternative approaches 2.5. Any specific fixed­facility accident or transportation risks asso­ ciated with alternative approaches 2.6. Regulatory outlook for the pesticides including their expected lifetime on the market 3. Examine the use and storage of MIC at the Bayer CropScience facility in Institute, West Virginia: 3.1. Identify possible approaches for eliminating or reducing the use of MIC in the Bayer carbamate pesticide manufacturing pro­ cesses, through, for example, substitution of less hazardous interme­ diates, intensifying existing manufacturing processes, or consuming MIC simultaneously with its production. 3.2. Estimate the projected costs of alternative approaches identi­ fied above. 3.3. Evaluate the projected benefits of alternative approaches identified above, including any cost savings, reduced compliance costs, liability reductions, reduced emergency preparedness costs, and reduced likelihood or severity of a worst­case MIC release or other release affecting the surrounding community. 3.4. Compare this analysis to the inherently safer process assess­ ments conducted by Bayer and previous owners of the Institute site. 3.5. Comment, if possible, on whether and how inherently safer pro­ cess assessments can be utilized during post­incident investigations.

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FIGURE 1.1 Timeline of events. 25 SOURCE: NRC Staff/Committee Generated

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26 USE AND STORAGE OF METHYL ISOCYANATE (MIC) AT BAYER CROPSCIENCE the methomyl unit, the MIC day tank shield structure design, emergency planning and response, environmental monitoring, and regulatory oversight of the facility (CSB, 2011). The report provided an overview of the alternative MIC technolo - gies considered by Bayer and the plant’s previous owners. The CSB also noted in the report that the board was considering the impact of Bayer’s announcement to cease production of MIC on the NAS study. In the end, no changes were made to the NAS study or its statement of task as a result of the announcement. Bayer intended to restart production of MIC to support production of aldicarb in February 2011. On February 8, 2011, local residents filed suit against Bayer in order to halt the restart of production until certain criteria were met, which resulted in a temporary restraining order to halt the process to restart production of MIC at the Institute facility and scheduled an evidentiary hearing for February 25, 2011 (Case 2:11-cv-00087 Document 16). On February 12, Bayer requested clarification and cancellation of the judge’s order, citing a need to continue pre-startup work related to its “MIC Safety Enhancement Project.” The request noted activities such as completion of opera - tor training and drafting of standard operating procedures for the new systems as well as completion of activities to support compliance with recommendations made by the CSB and other federal and local organizations (Case 2:11-cv-00087 Document 24). The judge indicated that the company could continue its work on the safety system, but he also noted that, “The court finds it remarkable that the defendant has yet to complete a wide array of safety measures, in light of the announcement in open court that but for the [temporary restraining order], MIC would have been produced within seven days at the Institute facility. Indeed, the defendant’s counsel indicated that Bayer was ‘in the process of startup right now,’ and that Bayer was ‘commissioning equipment’” (Case 2:11-cv-00087 Document 26). As part of the court proceedings, M. Sam Mannan, a chemical engineering professor from Texas A&M University and recognized expert in chemical process safety, was appointed by the court as an independent expert to review the MIC production process at Bayer CropScience. Professor Mannan was accepted by both the plaintiffs and the defendants in the suit. Mannan’s report was delivered to the court on March 14. On the basis of his assessment of the facility and on evaluation of two possible release scenarios (a condenser tube springing a 5-mm leak and deliberate sabotage), Professor Mannan concluded that “the probabilis - tic risk of the MIC process is very low.” (Case 2:11-cv-00087 Document 92-4). Finally, on March 18, 2011, Bayer CropScience announced that it would not restart the production of MIC. In a press release, the company stated that, “uncertainty over delays has led the company to the conclusion that a restart of production can no longer be expected in time for the 2011 growing season” (Bayer CropScience, 2011a), and this resulted in a dismissal of the case. These events were occurring as the committee was holding its data-gathering sessions.

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27 INTRODUCTION • Meeting 1: February 9-10, 2011, in Washington, DC. • Meeting 2: March 20-22, 2011, at West Virginia State University in Insti- tute, West Virginia. Included public comment period and a visit to the Bayer facility. • Meeting 3: May 24-25, 2011, in Washington, DC. • Meeting 4: August 8-9, 2011, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In addressing the statement of task, the committee began by considering how to address Task 3 and determining the data-gathering required. While it initially seemed that information from the literature review in Task 2 could be useful in addressing Task 3, the committee quickly determined that a detailed, full analysis of all alternative chemistries available for the production of aldicarb and carbaryl, including their manufacturing and energy costs, would require sig - nificantly greater investments than were available for the study. The investment required to fully analyze any one alternative is typically a multi-million dollar expenditure, and further, costs are highly dependent on the facility design, and accurate financial analysis requires specialized tools and information that is often unavailable to the public. In addition, in light of the de-registration of aldicarb and subsequent cessation of MIC, aldicarb, and carbaryl production at the Institute plant, the value of a full literature review for the chemical manufacturing com - munity was reduced as the information available from such a review would no longer have a potential use for the facility. With these limitations in mind, the committee chose to focus on a select set of possible alternative production processes for aldicarb and carbaryl. These chosen alternatives had been evaluated by Bayer and the facility’s legacy owners, and as a result, information about the chemistry and possible manufacturing processes were available for each. This approach reduced further the value of a literature review, which would be limited in its scope to information about manufacturing processes available in the open literature. As a result of these various factors, the committee chose to focus its efforts primarily on Task 3 and addressed Task 2 only in the context of the chosen alternative production processes. In this report, the selected alternatives and associated trade-offs are pre - sented, with particular attention to safety considerations. In addition, the con - text in which these trade-offs must be evaluated (financial, regulatory, etc.) is discussed. Finally, as deciding between alternative processes requires consider- ation and weighing of a number of different factors, including safety, one pos - sible framework for evaluating these complex decisions is presented. Note that much of the information to perform the analysis of trade-offs was drawn from documentation provided by Bayer CropScience from the company’s archives and those of the previous owners of the facility. As many of these processes were in active use until very recently, much of the information was previously considered proprietary.

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28 USE AND STORAGE OF METHYL ISOCYANATE (MIC) AT BAYER CROPSCIENCE STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT This report consists of eight chapters. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the incidents in Bhopal, India, which is called for in Task 1. Chapter 3 provides an overview of carbamate pesticides and their history in Institute, West Virginia and includes important information about changes in the plant design related to production of the pesticides and their precursors. Chapter 4 contains an introduction to Inherently Safer Processes (ISP) and ISP assessment and describes the role such concepts and assessment can play in process safety management. This background information is necessary context for the analysis provided for the remaining chapters. Chapter 5 addresses Tasks 3.1-3.3 by presenting an assessment of alternative methods for production of MIC, aldicarb, and carbaryl. The chapter also discusses the many factors that influence decision making in chemical manufacturing. This last point led the committee to consider a broader framework in which alterna - tives and trade-offs could be considered in corporate decision making. One pos- sible framework for decision making is discussed in Chapter 6. Chapter 7 compares the process analyses performed at the Institute facility by Bayer CropScience and the legacy owners as specifically called for in Task 3.4. Chapter 8 addresses Task 3.5 and considers the use of ISP assessments in post-incident investigations. After reading the findings from the CSB report, visiting the plant and talking with Bayer CropScience personnel, and listening to testimony from the public comment periods, it became clear that consideration of the context in which any ISP or process hazard assessment is performed is essential to allow for a complete analysis. To address this need, the discussions in Chapters 5 and 7 also touch on the role that an organizational safety culture plays in creating a safe operating environment and the broader context in which chemical plants operate, including local communities and policy concerns. REFERENCES Bayer CropScience. 2009. Bayer Crop Science Announces Investment of $25 Million for Institute Site. Bayer News Release: August 26, 2009 [online]. Available: http://www.bayerus.com/News/ NewsDetail.aspx?ID=586330BF-C83B-4EF3-93DBFF791373C7D7. Accessed: Feb. 14, 2012. Bayer CropScience. 2011a. Bayer CropScience to Reduce Operations in Institute, West Virginia, and Close Woodbine, Georgia, Site. News: January 11, 2011 [online]. Available: http://www.bayer cropscience.com/bcsweb/cropprotection.nsf/id/EN_20110111?open&l=EN&ccm=500020. Ac - cessed: Sept. 29, 2011. Bayer CropScience. 2011b. Bayer CropScience Announces Decision Not to Resume. News: March, 18, 2011 [online]. Available: http://www.press.bayer.com/baynews/baynews.nsf/id/Bayer-Crop Science-announces-decision-not-to-resume-MIC-production. Accessed: Sept. 29, 2011.

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29 INTRODUCTION Bresland, J. S. 2009. Testimony of John S. Bresland, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chemical Safety Board, Before the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Com - merce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Hearing on Secrecy in the Response to the Fatal Bayer Chemical Plant Explosion, 111th Congress, April 21, 2009 [online]. Available: http://www.csb.gov/assets/document/BreslandBayerCombinedTestimony.pdf. Accessed: Feb. 14, 2011. CSB (Chemical Safety Board). 2011. Investigation Report: Pesticide Chemical Runaway Reaction Pressure Vessel Explosion, Bayer CropScience, LP, Institute West Virginia, August 28, 2008. U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Washington, DC [online]. Available: http://www.csb.gov/assets/document/Bayer_Report_Final.pdf. Accessed: Sept. 29, 2011. Waxman, H. A., J. D. Rockefeller, B. Stupak, and E. J Markey. 2009. Letter to John Bresland, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Washington, DC, from Henry A. Waxman, Chairman, House Committee on Energy and Com - merce, John D. Rockefeller, Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transpor- tation, Bart Stupak, Chairman House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and Edward J. Markey, Chairman, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, Washington, DC, May 4, 2009 [online]. Available: http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090504/bayer. pdf. Accessed: June 26, 2012.

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