Press Release, November 23, 2010
Coalition against Bayer Dangers (Germany)
Norwich/UK: Hazardous substances in Bayer Cropscience factory
more than 100 tons of cyanides / Freedom of Information-request filed
The watchdog group Coalition against Bayer Dangers, which has been monitoring the chemical company Bayer for more than 30 years, has filed a Freedom of Information request on hazards originating from the Bayer CropScience plant at Norwich. In October Bayer had been granted permission to store more than 70 hazardous substances on the site. The approval was controversially discussed among members of the Norwich City Council.
The answer to the request reveals that large amounts of highly toxic and flammable chemicals such as Copper Cyanide (140 tons), Sodium Cynanide (94 tons), Bromine (100 tons) and Chlorobenzene (120 tons) are stored in the factory. Altogether 38 notifiable hazardous substances, with a total quantity of 2,313 tonnes, are stacked. Vessels are mostly above ground. Tanker deliveries include Bromine (up to 24 tons each), Sodium Cyanide (up to 26.5 to) and Thionyl Chloride.
A risk assessment undertaken by BAYER and recommendations by the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Norwich Planning Development Team are available (please send message to CBGnetwork(at)aol.com).
List of chemicals stored at Norwich (extract; please contact us for the complete list)
Name of substance / Maximum quantity in tonnes
Copper Cynanide 140
Sodium Cynanide (30% solution) 94
Sulphur Dioxide 12
Other Flammable materials unnamed 100
Other Highly Flammable materials unnamed 100
Bromoxynil Octanoate/ Heptanoate (herbicide) 500
Other Dangerous for the Environment materials unnamed 200
It was the first time since the factory opened in 1955 that Norwich council members had the chance to consider the risks of the plant. Green councillor Dr. Rupert Read said to the meeting (as reported in the local paper, the Evening News): “This is a historic day and we have a historic opportunity. If this factory was seeking to be built from scratch would you be inclined to build it? I put it to you that you would not. It is in an extremely built up area which is completely different to what was there in 1955 and even in 1990.
In the past years problems with chemical odours originating from the plant were repeatedly reported. Councillor Ruth Makoff said during the discussion: “The problem with smells is not minor - not just because it's a nuisance to people living nearby, but because a smell is itself a substance which you are inhaling, and which carries risks, especially because of the unknown results of the "cocktail effect" of different substances being mixed together. Until questions about this have been answered and the problem resolved, I would be concerned about granting permission for a new set of substances.
The Coalition against Bayer Dangers has documented dozens of accidents in Bayer factories across the world and has been demanding to dismantle stocks of highly hazardous substances such as phosgene and Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) for many years.
Norwich Evening News, 15 October, 2010
Bayer chemical plans approved
Chemical factory Bayer Cropscience has been granted permission to store more than 70 hazardous substances on its site on the edge of Norwich, despite concerned councillors questioning whether that would create an increased risk to city families.
The company, which makes agricultural products such as pesticides, had to seek permission from Norwich City Council because of changes in what it stores at its Sweet Briar Road factory.
It submitted a five-page list of some 70 chemicals, including copper cyanide, hydrogen peroxide, bromine and methanol, which it wants to store in varying quantities.
Council officers, at yesterdays meeting of the city councils planning applications committee, said it was the first time since the factory opened in 1955 that council members had the chance to consider the risks “posed by the operation at Bayer to the people and environment of Norwich.
And Green councillors for Wensum ward Ruth Makoff and Rupert Read urged councillors to “consider very carefully what decision they made and raised concerns about odours from the factory.
Mr Read said: “This is the first time ever that this committee has had the chance to consider these issues in the round. This is a historic day and we have an historic opportunity.
“If this factory was seeking to be built from scratch would you be inclined to build it? I put it to you that you would not.
“It is in an extremely built up area which is completely different to what was there in 1955 and even in 1990.
But site manager David Jones said: “At the end of the day we cannot guarantee it will be 100pc safe no matter what happens, but we can reassure you the steps we want to take look to improve what we do here and handle it in the best possible manner.
“This is the first time you have looked to consider this, but we are regularly and routinely monitored by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency on a regular basis.
“That means they visit the site several times a year and look at all aspects of operations. They are very meticulous in what goes on and in making recommendations to improve.
Mr Jones said action was being taken to address odour and added: “At this moment in time between 260 and 270 employees and around 150 contractors work at the site, so a rejection of this would mean those jobs would be lost from this community.
Officers said the Health and Safety Executive had advised that the application would “significantly reduce risks associated with the factory and there were no reasons, on safety grounds, for refusing the application.
Members of the committee agreed to grant hazardous substance consent. Dan Grimmer