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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: July 8, 2010

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North America


The Sierra Club and Environment Texas claim that Exxon Mobil Corp. has violated federal air pollution laws thousands of times during the last five years, releasing 10 million pounds of illegal pollution, including cancer-causing toxins, without facing proper fines or being forced to fix equipment at its Baytown, Texas refinery and petrochemical plants. The environmental groups have not yet sued Exxon, but have notified the company, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of plans to do so, which is a requirement under the Clean Air Act.



Westlake Chemical Corp. has sold $100 million in bonds and is considering a major expansion at its Geismar, Louisiana plant. The expansion of the companyís planned chlor-alkali plant has been on hold because of the economic downturn.


Membrane Chlor-Alkali Facility

Dow Chemical Co. has signed a deal with Mitsui & Co. to build and operate a new membrane chlor-alkali facility in Freeport, Texas. The agreement is a 50-50 joint venture. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter with the new facility expected to begin operations in mid-2013. The new facility is planned to have a capacity of approximately 800 kilotons/year.



Rebecca Morlock and Waunona Crouser, two West Virginia women who won a class-action lawsuit against DuPont Co. over long-term exposure to toxins from a former zinc-smelting plant in Spelter, West Virginia, are suing again. This time, they are seeking damages for dozens of ailments they say were caused by the chemicals. Morlock and Crouser are demanding damanges for pain and suffering, medical testing and treatment, lost wages, emotional distress and more. The amount of damages would be determined by a jury. The lawsuits accuse DuPont of negligence and list dozens of maladies the plaintiffs say were caused by long-term exposure to arsenic, cadmium, lead and other toxins from the Spelter smelter.



BASF and Monsanto Company plan to invest an additional $1 billion for expanded collaboration in developing higher-yielding and stress-tolerant crops, including wheat. The two companies are increasing investments in the joint venture following strong leads and commercial prospects in the collaborationís early work. Research collaboration began in 2007 on corn, soya, cotton and canola crops, with a joint budget of around $1.5 billion. The new agreement will result in a potential additional investment of more than $1 billion over the life of the collaboration.



Agrium Inc. has completed the acquisition of certain retail assets and one facility in Argentina. The acquisition is expected to add about $57 million to the companyís annual revenue. Agrium, which already has a wholly owned retail network in Argentina, bought 24 retail farm centers from DuPont Crop Protection, as well as its crop protection formulation facility. This is part of Agriumís push to expand its retail business.


Joint Venture

Royal DSM N.V. and Roquette  Freres have signed a joint venture agreement for the production, commercialization and market development of bio-based succinic acid. The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals and notifications. The 50-50 joint venture will be headquartered in the Netherlands as Reverdia V.o.f. The companies plan to market bio-based succinic acid via the joint venture and are also working together to further expand their joint capacity.



Neste Oil divested its Portuguese subsidiary Neste Oil Portugal S.A. to Repsol Polimeros LDA. The acquisition price was not disclosed, but included an Ethyl Tert-Butyl Ether (ETBE) plant in Sines, Portugal, which has an annual capacity of 50,000 tons.



Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. has started operations at its new Bina refinery in Madhya Pradesh. The startup was six months later than planned. The crude distillation unit of the refinery has an annual capacity of 6 million tons. The refinery has started producing kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas. All other units of the refinery will be commissioned sequentially with full commercial production scheduled by the end of September. 

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