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Bayer job reductions to start in September

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 160 workers at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute will be out of a job in September, as part of previously announced job eliminations related to Bayer's corporate product restructuring.

On Monday, Bayer informed workers and local political leaders of the dates for the terminations, which were previously announced more than a year ago.

Job eliminations will begin on Sept. 7 and be completed by Sept. 21. The 163 jobs being eliminated during that period include 49 operators and 40 mechanics, according to a list provided to Kanawha County officials.

In a letter to Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, plant manager Steven Hedrick said that layoffs would continue throughout the remainder of 2012. Bayer officials had said that the product restructuring would cost the plant a total of 220 jobs

Bayer spokesman Greg Coffey said Monday night that the exact number of layoffs "is not known at this time." Voluntary layoffs through an incentive program and "usual attrition" are expected to account for some of the job reductions, Coffey said in a prepared statement.

Bayer said the Institute site employs about 700 people, including Bayer workers, site tenants and contractors. Of the 700, about 300 are Bayer CropScience employees. By the end of the year, Bayer employees are expected to number approximately 200, the company said.

In January 2011, Bayer announced that it was going to stop making, using and storing any of the chemical methyl isocyanate, or MIC, at the plant by mid-2012. The move was part of a corporate restructuring and an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cease sales of Temik because of concerns the product could make food unsafe.

At Institute, Bayer used 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. Bayer wanted to restart the MIC unit so it could continue making aldicarb and Temik for another 18 months, until the EPA deal takes effect.

Bayer's move to eliminate Temik sales was announced in the midst of a lawsuit over the company's plans to restart the Institute plant's MIC unit, which had been down for a reconfiguration since August 2010.

The suit was the latest chapter in a 25-year effort by some Kanawha Valley residents to rid their community of the Institute plant's stockpile of the chemical. Community activists have focused their concerns on MIC since December 1984, when a leak of the chemical killed thousands of people near a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India.


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