But the CSB investigators reported in April 2009 that the products of that night's fire could have included "highly toxic chemicals such as methyl isocyanate, hydrogen cyanide, acetonitrile, carbon monoxide, dimethyl disulfide, nitrogen and sulfur oxides and methyl thiocyanate." CSB officials said in their final report that it was impossible to pin down the exact chemical or amounts that were released because Bayer's monitoring system was inoperable and inadequate.
On Friday, Stanley suggested that the court might seek to appoint its own "special master," someone with chemical plant expertise who could inspect the MIC unit and advise Goodwin about the company's safety practices. Stanley said appointing such an expert might even help Bayer, given public mistrust of the company following a long series of accidents at the Institute plant and Bayer's admitted efforts to avoid public discussions of the facility's MIC stockpile.
"Your client has credibility problems and you're going to be fighting that," Stanley told Bayer lawyer Al Emch and Tom Hurney.
In his Thursday temporary restraining order, Goodwin cited Bayer's "misrepresentations to the public" and a checked safety history -- along with the "catastrophic dangers presented by the production of MIC" -- is ruling to temporarily halt the company's restart of the MIC unit.
Bayer was preparing to start making MIC again within a week, following a $25 million project to remake the unit and reduce its stockpile of the chemical by 80 percent.
That project was nearly completed when Bayer announced last month that it was going to stop making, using and storing any MIC at the plant by mid-2012 as part of a corporate restructuring and an agreement with EPA to cease sales of the pesticide Temik. At Institute, Bayer uses MIC to make aldicarb, the active ingredient in Temik. Aldicarb from Institute is shipped to another Bayer plant in Georgia, where it is used to formulate Temik.
Emch told Stanley that Bayer wants to restart the MIC unit so it can continue making aldicarb and Temik for another 18 months. Farmers, especially those who grow peanuts and cotton, have yet to find adequate replacement pesticides, Emch said.
DePaulo, though, said that he has found evidence that 80 percent of the farmers who use Temik have already found replacements for it to deal with one of its biggest target pests, small bugs called thrips.
"There are a significant number of alternative products on the market," DePaulo said. "There is a whole new generation of productions that are eating up Temik's market. I think Bayer is going to abandon 'We'll hurt the poor farmers' as a defense, because the evidence that is available is going to be devastating to them."
Also Friday, the residents posted a $10,000 cash bond. Goodwin ordered them to post the bond, under a federal court rule allowing bonds to be required to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongly enjoined or restrained.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.