Read the legal briefs.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lawyers for Bayer CropScience are urging a federal judge to turn down a request to temporarily block the company from restarting the methyl isocyanate production unit at its chemical plant in Institute.
Michael M. Fisher, a lawyer for Bayer, said that Kanawha Valley residents' "fears" of a major MIC accident do not rise to the level needed to obtain a temporary restraining order in federal court.
"Not only have the plaintiffs' cited and relied on the wrong standards surrounding injunctive relief, they have also failed to establish any clear proof that Bayer's lawful production of MIC would in any manner constitute a nuisance," Fisher wrote in a legal brief filed Wednesday night.
Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin is scheduled to hold a hearing at 2 p.m. today on a request by 16 Kanawha Valley residents for a court order to temporarily block Bayer from restarting its MIC production unit.
Residents filed suit on Tuesday asking Goodwin to block Bayer from resuming MIC production until, among other things, comprehensive plant inspections are conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The Institute plant's stockpile of MIC -- for years, the facility stored a quarter-million pounds of the chemical on site -- has been a focus of concern for many valley residents since December 1984, when a leak of the chemical killed thousands of people near a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India.
Bayer is in the process of restarting the MIC unit after a significant modification project, but plans to operate it for only about 18 months before it stops making, using or storing the chemical at its Institute site.
The suit accuses Bayer of "chronically reckless operation" of the plant and "admitted dishonesty in public communications" with residents of the Kanawha Valley. It alleges Bayer can't be trusted to restart the MIC unit safely, and notes that start-ups and shut-downs can be the most dangerous times in the operation of complex chemical units.