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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: March 31, 2009

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North America

Toxic Chemicals

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toxic chemical pollution from the United Statesí industrial plants and factories declined by 5 percent in 2007. Despite an overall decline, more mercury, dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls entered the environment. These chemicals remain in the environment for long periods of time and accumulate in body tissues.

CO2 Proposal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sent a proposed rule to the White Houseís Office of Management and Budget that says carbon dioxide is a danger to the public. The endangerment finding will trigger emission regulations across the country under the Clean Air Act.  While President Obama says he prefers Congress to create a system that caps greenhouse gas emissions and creates a market for businesses to buy and sell the right to emit, the administration is moving forward on CO2 regulations under the Clean Air Act as a back-stop strategy designed to pressure reluctant lawmakers into action.

Research Program Commitment

Monsanto has announced a $10 million grant to establish Monsantoís Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program. This will help identify and support young scientists interested in improving research and production in rice and wheat through plant breeding techniques. The program will be administered by Texas AgriLife Research, an agency of the Texas A&M University System, for the next five years.

Plant Closure

National Starch and Chemical Co. is halting production at its Island Falls, Maine plant in June, resulting in the layoff of 38 workers. The plantís higher costs prompted the decision as the company is moving to streamline its supply chain and concentrate production at larger facilities that can be run more economically.


Further Output Cuts

BASF says that because order levels remain weak, it will further reduce production. The companyís production has already been slashed by more than 25 percent worldwide. They will shutdown steam crackers in Ludwigshafen in April for at least three months. Those employees will be transferred to other production plants at the site for the time being. If the situation does not improve soon, BASF may have to enact shorter working hours.

Project Update

The integrated refining and ethylene facility launched by Sinopec in Chinaís Fujian province is expected to go into operation by the end of June this year. Upon operation, the annual refining capacity will be expanded from 4 million tons to 12 million tons. The facility includes an 800,000-ton ethylene cracking unit, 650,000-ton polyethylene unit, 400,000-ton polypropylene unit and one-million-ton aromatic unit.

New Plants

Total SA plans to set up new refining and petrochemical projects in China. The company currently operates one refinery and has no petrochemical plant in China. Total intends to invest now to plan for future oil demands.

Plant Closure

Due to the economic downturn, particularly the dramatic decline in the UK paint market, Rohm and Haas is closing its plant in Dewsbury, England. More than 40 jobs are being lost as a result. For a few more weeks, the site will continue production. Then, a three-month clean up and eradication of traces of chemicals will take place.      

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