CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha Valley activists are complaining that federal regulators are going easy on Bayer CropScience in a recent deal proposed to settle wide-ranging environmental violations at the company’s Institute chemical plant.

People Concerned About MIC argues that monetary fines in the deal are not adequate, and proposes that Bayer be forced to fund a new community health study and pay for gas masks for all residents.

“While the violations represented in this penalty cover a short amount of time, they do not cover conclusively the years of damage that have been done to the health and environment of our community,” People Concerned spokeswoman Maya Nye wrote in a letter sent earlier this month to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the settlement, EPA proposes for Bayer to pay a $112,500 fine, spend $660,000 on new pollution controls and monitoring programs, and buy $240,000 worth of equipment for local emergency response agencies.

The consent agreement would settle allegations made by EPA inspectors during a series of inspections made as Bayer was negotiating to take over the Institute facility from Aventis CropScience in 2001. During inspections in May, August and November 2001, EPA officials found repeated violations of five different environmental laws meant to limit air and water pollution, and protect the public from the dangers of hazardous chemical leaks and spills.

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