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christa.jpg (5628 bytes) Chemical Industry News Editor Christa Semko
Every two weeks, Christa will bring you the latest chemical industry news from around the world.  If you have a press release that you'd like to share with us, please mail it to us through our online contact form here.

Dateline: September 2, 2008

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North America

Chlor Alkali Plant

Westlake Chemical Corp. will build a new chlor alkali plant in Geismar, Louisiana.  The new plant will nearly double the companyís production capacity.  Construction is expected to cost $250 million to $300 million and the plant is expected to produce 250,000 electro chemical units/year.  The plant should be operational during the first half of 2011.


Chemical Plant Blast

One worker was killed and a second injured in an explosion at a Bayer Crop Science plant in Charleston, West Virginia.  The explosion occurred in a section of the plant where waste products are treated before disposal.  Investigators will work to determine the cause of the explosion once itís safe to re-enter the unit.


Twelve states, New York City and the District of Columbia are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), claiming the Bush administration has failed to rein in emissions from oil refineries.  The suit is aimed at forcing the EPA to adopt new regulations to reduce oil industry pollution that contributes to global warming.  The states involved in the suit include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.


Plant Closure

Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex, a joint venture between Dow Chemical Company and Reichhold Inc., will close their plant in Dover, Delaware by the end of the year.  The companies say that their joint venture is no longer worthwhile.  The closure will eliminate 81 jobs.  The companyís operations in North Carolina and offices overseas will also close.

DVA Plant

ExxonMobil Chemical has started up a manufacturing facility at its existing site in Pensacola, Florida.  The start-up provides new capacity for the production of a new tire material technology that is reported to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.  The dynamically vulcanized alloy (DVA) is said to reduce air loss between fillings and help conserve energy and resources.  DVA enables improved tire inflation pressure retention, meaning reduced rolling resistance, thereby leading to improved fuel economy.

Screening Clinic Closure

Federal funds used to screen Libby, Montana residents for asbestos-related diseases have dried up, which will end the free health-surveillance program that started there in 2003.  The program began operations shortly after evidence emerged in Libby of widespread asbestos contamination.  The now-defunct W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine had unearthed toxic soil that spread throughout the community.  There is another program that provides benefits that can be spent on screening to help fill the void of the federal grant funds.


Regional Accident Investigation Office

The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board is recruiting accident investigators to staff a new office it hopes to open in Denver, Colorado.  This will be the first Chemical Safety Board (CSB) office outside of Washington, D.C.  The board is seeking chemical engineers, chemists and others with expertise relevant to accident investigation to staff the office.  The facility will depend on the quality of those applying for the positions and whether Congress provides adequate funding for it.


Chemical Plant Blasts

Explosions at a chemical plant in Yizhou, China killed at least 11 and injured dozens as well as forced the evacuation of thousands of nearby residents.  The multiple explosions spread fire across a nearly 108,000-square-foot area.  The local government evacuated 11,500 residents in case of further blasts and chemical leaks.  The plant mainly produces chemicals for adhesives and paints and is owned by Guangxi Guangwei Chemical Co.

Plant Cut

Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. plans to cut runs of its naphtha crackers from September until the end of December.  This decision reflects weaker demand for petrochemical products.  The company will cut the operating rates of its three naphtha crackers in Japan to 80-85% capacity from their current 93% capacity.


Petrochemical Complex

The Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN) plans to begin construction of the southern petrochemical complex at the Long Son Oil and Gas Industrial Zone in Vietnam in late September.  The project is estimated to cost $4 billion.  The complex will be capable of producing 3 million tons of products/year.  The complex is a joint venture of PVN, Vietnam National Chemical Corporation, Vina SCG Chemicals and the Thai Plastic and Chemicals.  They expect the complex to be operational in late 2012 to supply petrochemical products including HDPE, LDPE, PE, PP and PVC to the Vietnamese market.

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