Monday, March 16, 2009
CSB to Hold Bayer CropScience Public Meeting
On Friday the Chemical Safety Board announced that they would hold a public meeting in Institute, WV to discus the August 2008 fatal accident at the Bayer CropScience facility. The meeting will be held on April 23, 2009 at West Virginia State University. According to the press release: “Pre-registration is not required, but to assure adequate seating attendees are encouraged to pre-register by emailing their names and affiliations to email@example.com by April 10. There is no mention in the current press release about the previous Bayer warning that the information to be covered in the meeting was protected from public release under provisions of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA). The meeting that was originally scheduled for March 19th, was canceled to allow the CSB to investigate the Bayer claim. I have not seen any public comment about the discussions between CSB and the Coast Guard, the agency that administers the MTSA. There have certainly been discussions, but no one is discussing what limitations (if any) the Coast Guard feels the MTSA information security requirements places on the public discussion of the CSB investigation of the incident. There is always the possibility that Bayer might try to get an injunction to stop the public meeting based on their earlier claim of information protection under the MTSA. Courts are usually reluctant to get involved in pre-emptive disclosure arguments. Alternatively, Bayer might appeal to Secretary Napolitano as the person ultimately responsible for actions taken under MTSA. Action would probably be unlikely if the Coast Guard and the CSB have come to an agreement on disclosure limits. That agreement would probably already have been vetted to the Secretary’s office. It will be interesting to see what questions, if any, the CSB refuses to answer at their meeting. Unless there are questions specifically about the security arrangements at the facility, I would not expect there to be any problems. Security arrangement questions would probably not have been answered by the CSB in any case. I do expect that there will be a Coast Guard representative present at the meeting, probably even the local Captain of the Port, the person responsible for port facility security under MTSA.