Bayer had planned to phase out MIC production next year as part of a corporate restructuring after meeting the demands of growers this season. On Friday, however, it said "uncertainty over delays" made it unlikely it could resume production in time.
For many Americans, Bhopal is a faded memory. The disaster killed about 15,000 people and sickened half a million. The victims clawed at their throats, frothed at the mouth, bled from their eyes and choked on their own vomit.
For Institute, it has been impossible to forget.
The sprawling, 460-acre Institute chemical complex is the first thing residents see when they turn off Interstate 64. From their modest homes, the view of the plant is blocked only by the taller buildings of the university.
Less than two years after Bhopal, Congress passed the federal Right-to-Know Act, to help the thousands of people around the country who live in the shadow of industry know what chemicals are made and stored in their neighborhoods. However, that openness began to diminish after the al-Qaida terrorist attacks of 2001. Chemical plants became viewed as potential targets. Reports on the toxic inventory of industries no longer were as readily available to the public.
"It made us less safe," said Pam Nixon, environmental advocate with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Bayer was widely criticized for failing to communicate details of the 2008 explosion to emergency responders and the 40,000 neighbors ordered to stay indoors - a secrecy its chief executive later testified was intended solely to prevent debate over MIC.
"Ten years later, they're still in that 9/11 mindset," Nixon said, "trying to keep it secret."
Institute residents say money, power, race and the influence of the chemical companies all help explain why the fight over MIC lasted so long. The community has no government, no official leaders and no political champion.
For decades, the chemical industry provided thousands of good-paying jobs. Regardless of who owned the Institute complex -- first Union Carbide, then Rhone-Poulenc, then Aventis, now Bayer CropScience -- managers and employees were involved in their communities. They wielded influence and social connections the people of Institute couldn't match.
There were protests against MIC, but the companies could muster larger rallies in less time. Just as miners are quick to fight for their employers in the coalfields, employees eager to keep their jobs were quick to defend the chemical plants.
All along, Institute folks say, race was among the factors working against the community.
"There certainly was a perception that, because it was a poor black neighborhood, no one cared," said Gerry Beller, a longtime activist and political science professor at West Virginia State.
Bayer denies any racial link. The company has operations in more than 120 countries and is "committed to the communities where we work and live," Dover said.
Nixon can't help but wonder.
The former West Dunbar resident was injured in August 1985 when a leak of aldicarb oxime and methylene chloride from the plant sent 135 people to hospitals. Other communities, she said, have had far more success fighting industry.
Take, for example, lawsuits against DuPont in the Parkersburg area over a chemical used to make Teflon. Plaintiffs there have won court orders for scientific health studies and more.
"Then you look at the demographics," Nixon said. "Race is part of it."