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 hearing, 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.


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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