LaRoche temporarily lays off 40 workers; Kaiser lays off 82

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / July 28, 1999

GRAMERCY – LaRoche Industries Inc. announced a temporary layoff of 40production employees and maintenance employees at its chlor-alkali plant Monday, and they join 82 Kaiser replacement workers on the unemployment line.

The announcement came in the aftermath of the July 5 Kaiser explosion which shut down the Kaiser power plant. That power plant also providespower to LaRoche, and by being off-line, the company’s production was halted.

Bud Ingalls of LaRoche commented, “We regret having to take this step, but must reduce our costs while we are unable to operate our chlor-alkali facility.”LaRoche plans to resume operation of its fluorocarbon unit this week, but resumption of its fluor-alkali unit may not happen for another four to six weeks after Kaiser gets full access to the power plant, according to Ingalls.

Those remaining LaRoche employees will continue to operate the fluorocarbon unit, maintain and monitor the chlor-alkali unit and load and process caustic orders, while serving its customers with inventory from outside sources.

Meanwhile, Kaiser slashed 82 temporary replacement workers from its facility as the investigation into the explosion continues by the Louisiana State Police and the Mine Safety and Health Administration of the U.S.Department of Labor.

Kaiser spokesman Jerry Lambert said, “We just don’t need the number of employees.”The laid-off temporary workers, who were filling in for those employees on strike since Sept. 30, were mostly in the production units. Lambert saidthe timetable of resuming production is still on track for 12 to 18 months.

“We’ve kept them on rotating shift and tried to keep them as long as we could.”Kaiser is only now getting limited access to certain areas affected by the explosion. “We’re not yet into what they call the ‘hot area’ yet,” Lambertsaid. “There’s so much to sift through. It’s a difficult task.”He expressed the feelings of Kaiser management of the investigation and commented: “Believe me, we are somewhat frustrated at not being able to get into our own plant.”

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