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Saturday, March 07, 2009

W. Va. chemical plant halts briefing on fatal accident

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board planned to brief the public on a 2008 explosion at a chemical plant run by Bayer CropScience; however, those plans changed when plant operators argued that information related to the investigation is considered "sensitive security information," Secrecy News reported. Bayer refers to the Maritime Transportation Security Act, but Secrecy News points out that this act only says certain facility security data "is not required to be disclosed to the public," NOT that disclosure is prohibited. Coast Guard regulations that protect plant information don't apply to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

Government safety investigators canceled a public briefing about an August 28, 2008 explosion that killed two persons at a chemical plant in Institute, West Virginia after operators of the plant said that public discussion of the accident could jeopardize "sensitive security information."

Bayer CropScience, which runs the plant, told the U.S. Chemical Safety Board that relevant information about the plant is protected from public disclosure under the terms of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, as interpreted by U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

The Board, which is an independent federal agency that investigates industrial accidents, canceled the March 19 public meeting while it seeks to evaluate the Bayer secrecy claims. See "Board Cancels Hearing Under Bayer Pressure" by Ken Ward, Jr., The Charleston Gazette, February 25, 2009.

More here.

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