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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: August 18, 2009

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North America

Business Consolidation

DuPontís chief financial officer will move to a new role as the company consolidates its 23 businesses into 14. The company is streamlining the businesses to bring business decisions close to customers and to increase regional responsibility and accountability. CFO Jeffrey Keefer will maintain his position until the end of October and then move to oversee the performance coatings business, corporate strategy development process, and overall cost and working capital productivity efforts.


Plant Restart

Indspec Chemical Corpís Petrolia, Pennsylvania plant is getting back to business, with its workforce of more than 250 expected back at the chemicals plant. The plant was idled in March so that the company could reduce inventories with the economic slowdown hitting the automotive industry and manufacturers of auto-related products. Indspecís plant makes several chemicals, including resorcinol, an adhesive used to manufacture tires.


Asset Sale

Dow Chemical Co. is selling a plant and a specialty latex business to Arkema for $50 million. The sale includes the acrylic acid and esters plant in Clear Creek, Texas, and the companyís specialty latex business. The sale is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending approval from the Federal Trade Commission.

Tentative Ruling

A Sacramento, California judge sided with the styrene industry and against state environmental officials in ruling that the chemical doesnít have to be listed under the stateís Proposition 65 as a cause of cancer. Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang said that the listing would have a devastating effect on the industry that uses the product widely. In her tentative ruling, she specifically cited styrenic plastics as being crucial to the transportation and sale of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, which are critical to California growers.


Positive Job Outlook

Good paying jobs in the chemical industry are available in Kanawha Valley, West Virginia. The most critical skill set being sought are chemical workers who run chemical plants. During the next three years up to 200 operator jobs will become available. Some of the jobs will be at new facilities, while others will be to replace the aging workforce in the area.

Chemical Security Act

The House of Representatives is working on extending a law set to expire in October that aims to harden chemical facilities against terrorist attacks. Officials with the Department of Homeland Securityís chemical facilities antiterrorism standards program have not had enough time to fully assess all of the countryís chemical facilities that may be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Under a law Congress passed in 2007, the 7,000 facilities identified as most vulnerable must inventory all hazardous materials, carry out a vulnerability assessment and draw up site security plans to address any risks. The revised law, the Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Act of 2009, will fine tune the regulations and make the rules permanent.

Curbing Mercury Emissions

PPG Industries Inc. has reached a settlement with the state of Maryland that pledges to curb mercury emissions from its chlorine manufacturing facility in Natrium, West Virginia by 87.5 percent from 2004 levels during the next four years. This agreement has been made even though there are no regulatory limits in effect at this time. In addition, the company pledged to pay up to $240,000 a year in penalties if it exceeds limits set in the agreement. Under the agreement, PPG has said its goal is to replace its current process that releases mercury into the air with a mercury-free process. Emissions from the plant 72 miles from the Maryland border are carried into the state by prevailing winds. Mercury can cause brain and nervous system damage as well as other health problems.


Plant Leak

More than 500 villagers from Zhentou township in central China have been found to have high concentrations of cadmium in their bodies after a series of leaks from a chemical plant. The leaks are also believed to be related to the deaths of two villagers in May and June. Exposure to large amounts of cadmium can cause failure of the central nervous system and lungs, lead to severe brain damage and, in some cases, cause death.

PE Catalyst Plant

Univation Technologies, LLC has begun construction of a new polyethylene catalyst manufacturing facility in China that is scheduled to start up in 2011. The new facility will produce the companyís UCAT J High Productivity Catalyst that is employed in the production of a broad range of LLDPE and HDPE products. It will be located in Zhangjiagang.


Petrochemical Plant Possible

SK Group is looking at building a petrochemical plant fueled by Peruís Camisea gas reserves with an estimated investment of $4 billion. The company is looking to win a concession from the Peruvian government and would aim to make the plant operational in 2015.

Methyl Methacrylate Plant

Mitsubishi Rayon Co. plans to build a methyl methacrylate factory for a precursor material for acrylic glass through a Middle Eastern joint venture by 2013. The joint venture partner has not been disclosed. The plant is expected to have an annual production capacity of 250,000 tons. Additionally, they plan to build at the site a facility that will make molded products using MMA produced at the proposed plant.


Coal Chemical Firm

Kailuan Clean Coal Co., Ltd. and an affiliate of Beijing Enterprises Group Co., Ltd. have agreed to jointly set up a big coal chemical firm. Kailuan will hold a 51 percent stake in the new firm. After the formation, Kailuan will form a coal chemical industrial park with 10 big coke ovens in Jingtang Port, China. The park will have a coking coal production capacity of 6.1 million tons/year and will be capable of processing 800,000 tons of methanol/year, 1 million tons of tar/year and 200,000 tons of benzene hydrogenation/year.


Oil Complex

Chinaís Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Kuwait Petroleum Corp.ís joint refining and chemical complex will be built in Zhanjing city, China. The $9 billion project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013 after it gains approval from the National Development and Reform Commission. It will have an annual capacity of 15 million tons. The two parties will be launching feasibility studies for the location to evaluate its environmental impact.

Exiting Business

Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. will withdraw from the business of polystyrene. The unit of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. wants to clean out its unprofitable petrochemical businesses and focus on functional products where it is highly competitive. By October 1, it plans to sell all its shares in PS Japan Corp. to partners Asahi Kasei Corp. and Idemitsu Kosan Co. Mitsubishi Chemical is expected to receive approximately $5.26 million for the shares.


Tech Center Expansion

WACKER has successfully completed the expansion and relocation of its technical center and offices in Dubai. The new facility serves as a development and testing lab for construction-chemistry applications. The expanded technical center supports WACKER POLYMERS and WACKER SILICONES customers in the development of new products and applications for the regionís markets.

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