Press Release, March 11, 2010
Coalition against Bayer Dangers (Germany)
India: Fire at Bayer CropScience Plant
Toxic gas leaked / one employee killed
A fire broke out today at a Bayer CropScience pesticide plant in India. Toxic gases mercaptane and phosphorus tri-chloride leaked from the factory near Ankleshwar. A 27 year old plant engineer was killed. The gases escaped the plant and could be smelled in nearby areas. The reason what caused the fire is still not known.
According to rescue workers the fire occurred in the Ethoprophos plant. The gases leaked for about 90 minutes. Ethoprophos, classified as “extremely toxic? (class 1) by the World Health Organization WHO, is the ingredient of Bayer´s insecticide Mocap. The chemical severely affects the functioning of the nervous system. Ethoprophos causes tremors, nausea and weakness at low exposures, and paralysis and death on exposure to high doses.
Philipp Mimkes from the Coalition against Bayer dangers, which has been monitoring the company for more than 30 years, says: “Bayer is the world market leader for pesticides, many of which account for pollution and poisonings all over the world. Only a few weeks ago we demanded a withdrawal of all WHO class 1 pesticides, among them Ethoprophos?. Already in its 1995 Annual Report Bayer promised to “replace products with the Classification 1 of the World Health Organisation with products of lower toxicity?. Until today the company failed to keep its promise.
Police speaker M S Shukla said towards the Times of India: "Upon receipt of several complaints, air monitoring was initiated which confirmed that in the morning hour there was a high concentration of gases in air. Due to bad odour many complaints were received of nausea and vomiting. The situation became normal after 9 am onwards."
In August 2008 a storage tank exploded at an American Bayer CropScience plant near Charleston. Two workers lost their lives. The tremors were felt in a radius of more than 10 miles. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), after analyzing the incident, criticized "faulty safety systems, significant shortcomings with the emergency procedures and a lack of employee training". According to a US Congress investigation the region narrowly escaped a catastrophe that could have surpassed the 1984 Bhopal disaster. Congress investigators found that the explosion "came dangerously close" to compromising an MIC storage tank. Had the exploded residue treater hit the MIC tank, "the consequences could have eclipsed the 1984 disaster in India."
Times of India, March 11, 2010
Bayer India: Fire, gas leak at unit claims engineer's life
ANKLESHWAR: A fire broke out at Bayer Crop Science plant at Ankleshwar on Thursday which led to leakage of marcaptane and phosphorus tri-chloride gases and death of plant incharge engineer Vaibhav Saxena, 27. The odour of the gases were felt by the people in the nearby areas.
According to a release by the leading agro chemical manufacturing company, "The fire was brought under control within 25 minutes. There was minimal impact in the rest of the plant area and neighbourhood."
Kiran Desai, vice president of the company, has mourned the death of Vaibhav Saxena and expressed sympathies with the young engineer's family members.
"There was a fire and gases leaked from the storage tanks located at the ground floor of Ethoprophos plant. The fire was brought under control within half an hour but the gas leakage Marcaptane and Phosphorus continued for another one hour. We tried to save the young engineer Vaibhav Saxena's life but found him dead," said Manoj Kotadia, manager, Fire and Safety of Disaster Prevention and Management Centre, Ankleshwar. The reason what caused the fire is still not known.
A case has been registered at GIDC police station at Ankleshwar. M S Shukla, regional officer, GPCB, Bharuch, said, "Upon receipt of several complaints, air monitoring was initiated which confirmed that in the morning hour there was a high concentration of gases in air. Due to bad odour many complaints were received of nausea and vomiting. The situation became normal after 9 am onwards."
March 26, 2010,
Bayer CropScience halts work at Ankleshwar unit
Bayer CropScience said on Friday it has suspended manufacturing activities at its unit in Ankleshwar in Gujarat after a fire broke out at the site on March 11.
Bayer has been asked by the state authorities to halt work at the site, it said. The estimated loss due to the fire stands at about 70 million rupees, it said, adding the property is covered by insurance.
It also has sufficient stocks of key products manufactured at Ankleshwar and product supply to its customers would continue, the firm added.