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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 30, 2008

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North America

End of Offshore Drilling Ban

For now, at least, congressional Democrats appear to be conceding in the standoff with Republicans over more offshore oil drilling as they prepare to let a quarter-century ban on oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts fall by the wayside.  A provision that would bar drilling in federal waters along the two coasts has been left off of a stopgap spending bill.

New Fertilizer

Honeywell International Inc. has developed a fertilizer that can foil bomb-making efforts.  The technology combines ammonium sulfate with ammonium nitrate, providing the nitrogen and sulfur needed for plant nutrition while ensuring improved safety and storage.  Independent tests confirmed that the fertilizer is more difficult to use as an explosive – when mixed with fuel oil, the new fertilizer did not detonate.  Limited quantities will be available for sale in some regions next year under the Sulf-N 26 name.

Chemical is Safe

Federal regulators defend their assessment that bisphenol A or BPA, a chemical widely used in plastic baby bottles and food packaging, is safe, even as the first major study of health effects in people linked it with possible risks for heart disease and diabetes.  Officials did say, however, that additional research is needed in light of the new study’s results.


Symrise plans to acquire Manheimer Fragrances and recently purchased Intercontinental Fragrances.  These acquisitions expand the company’s air care market expertise.  Together, the acquisitions will cost about $100 million.  As a result, Symrise is one of the leading fragrance suppliers for air fresheners in North America and the company says it plans to create a global air care center in the U.S. next year.  


Plant Expansion

PPG Industries Inc. will buy BASF Corp.’s North American coil and extrusion coating business.  This move will result in work transferring to PPG’s Springdale, PA plant, creating 55 jobs.  The production transfer will be from BASF’s Decatur, AL and Belvidere, NJ operations.  PPG will spend $8 million to install equipment needed for the consolidation.


PPG Industries Inc., in response to weaknesses in the housing and automotive markets, will close three coatings and glass plants as part of a restructuring plant that will eliminate several hundred jobs and save $100 million annually.  The company is looking to streamline its worldwide manufacturing footprint and staffing levels following its recent acquisitions.


Presidential Veto Overridden

Czech lawmakers have overridden a presidential veto of a law that puts the country’s chemical industry under tougher European Union rules.  The bill implements an EU directive that requires manufacturers and importers to register chemicals with the new Helsinki-based European Chemicals Agency.  The new agency’s tasks are to collect information and run a public database on chemicals as well as to evaluate, authorize and restrict use of substances so they pose no hazard to humans and the environment.

Job Cuts

Akzo Nobel will cut 3,500 jobs by 2011.  Synergies with ICI, acquired by Akzo Nobel last year, combined with additional cost savings will cause the job cuts.  The company is also postponing a program to buy back $2.3 billion in shares due to the crisis hitting world banks.


SAFC Pharma has commenced operations of a new reactor at its Arklow, Ireland manufacturing site.  The $4 million investment expands the facility’s capacity for large-scale active pharmaceutical indgredient (API) manufacturing by 15%.  The new reactor is the latest in a series of investments designed to enhance production capacity and expand capabilities at the site.

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