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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 1, 2009

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North America


A fire that started near a rail tanker car at the Sterling Services Ltd. plant in Hamtramck, Michigan spread quickly to silos holding gasoline, causing an inferno. The company stores gasoline, jet fuel and biofuels at the plant, so authorities evacuated hundreds of residents from about a half-mile area around the fire. There were no injuries reported and it is unknown what caused the spark.


Toxic Chemical Storage Cut

Bayer CropScience’s Institute, West Virginia plant will reduce its storage of methyl isocyanate (MIC) that was in danger of being released in a deadly explosion nearly a year ago. The company will cut storage by 80 percent and build an underground storage tank to hold it within the next year. The changes are part of a $25 million safety upgrade at the plant, which is the only U.S. site that produces and stores large amounts of MIC. MIC is used in the manufacture of insecticides at four different units at the plant.



Firefighters have put out a blaze at a Diversified Chemical Technologies Inc. plant in Detroit, Michigan. The fire forced employees and nearby businesses to evacuate, but no one was injured. The company produces chemicals for clients ranging from the automotive to food and beverage industries.


EPA Fine

Vertellus Agriculture and Nutrition Specialties L.L.C. has agreed to pay a $425,000 penalty and spend $705,000 on pollution control upgrades to settle alleged clean air violations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the proposed agreement with federal officials, the company will upgrade pumps to eliminate hazardous air pollutant emissions at its plant. The plant makes chemicals for the agriculture and nutrition industries.

Chlor Alkali Project Complete

Olin Chlor Alkali Products, a division of Olin Corp., has recently finished modernizing its chlor alkali plant in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. The construction took more than two years and involved an investment of approximately $170 million. The plant will produce more than 100 jobs and generate $500,000 each year in city, parish and state tax revenues. The company expects to start full production by the end of September 2009.

Site Cut From Superfund List

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it intends to remove a St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands Superfund site from its National Priorities List, citing a successful cleanup. The announcement is one of the final steps in removing the Island Chemical Corp./Virgin Islands Chemical Corp. site from the Superfund listing of the most contaminated spots in the nation. Before the site comes off the list, the EPA will accept public comments on the proposal until Sept. 15.


$415 Million Bid

Huntsman Inc. has offered to pay about $415 million for a Tronox Inc.’s titanium dioxide and electrolytics businesses in a deal that would make Huntsman the world’s second-biggest maker of a whitener used in food, plastics and paint products. Huntsman has signed a “stalking horse” agreement with Tronox, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January. That means other companies may submit competing bids for Tronox’s assets before a bankruptcy court action that is likely to take place in the fourth quarter of this year. The assets would include titanium dioxide facilities in the Netherlands and the U.S., a joint venture interest in an Australian operation, and electrolytic production facilities in the U.S.


Petrochemical Complex

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Saudi Aramco) has said its planned giant petrochemical project with Dow Chemicals Co. will produce 8 million tons of products/year. The petrochemical project has an estimated cost of more than $20 billion. It is expected to become fully operational in 2015. The complex will produce ethylene and polyethylene plastic; chlorine and caustic soda; propylene oxide and propylene glycol; vinyl chloride; epoxy resins; polyurethanes; polycarbonate; and other basic chemicals and plastics. The project is still in the engineering and design phase and is not yet a joint venture. An investment decision on whether the project should proceed is expected to be made next year.


Olefins II Project

Fluor Corp. has completed its Olefins II Project for a joint venture of Dow Chemical Company, Petrochemical Industries Company, Bubyan Petrochemical and Qurain Petrochemical Industries in Shuaiba, Kuwait. Fluor’s work began in July 2004, with the company providing overall management consultancy and front-end engineering and design work for utilities and infrastructure. The project doubled the capacity of the existing complex.


Ethylene and Refining Complex

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation’s one-million-ton-level ethylene and 10-million-ton-level oil refining complex is scheduled to start production in October. The plant’s construction started in June 2006. It is located in Tianjin, China and involved an investment of CNY 26.8 billion. After the completion of the project, Sinopec Tianjin Company will be capable of production 1.2 million tons of ethylene/year, refining 12.5 million tons of oil/year, and turning out 12 million tons of high-quality oil, petrochemical and chemical fiber products/year.


New Contract

Arabian American Development Co.’s subsidiary, South Hampton Resources, Inc., has signed a new contract with LyondellBasell Industries that is estimated at $11 to $15 million/year over the term of the contract. The contract is scheduled to run from Aug. 1, 2009 through April 30, 2012, with continuation year to year thereafter. The annual volume of the contract is approximately 4 million gallons total of normal hexane, isohexane and isopentane, providing LBI with 80 percent of their needs for these products that are used in the production of polyethylene.

Propylene Facility

Sinochem Quanzhou Petrochemical Co., Ltd. has selected UNIPOL Polypropylene Process Technology for its new 200 kilotons/year polypropylene facility. The plant will be built in Quanzhou, China and is expected to come on line in 2011. The facility will mainly produce homopolymers that will be marketed in China and abroad.

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