Dow shutdown has minimal affect on Hahnville facility

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 5, 2009


HAHNVILLE — At a board of directors meeting last Tuesday, officials at Dow Chemical announced the closure of several of the company’s manufacturing plants including two units at its Hahnville complex, but a plant spokesman said the shut down would only result in about 10 layoffs.

Tommy Faucheux, public affairs official for Dow’s St. Charles operations, said the two ethylene units that will close — a cracking unit and an ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol unit — have been inactive for several months because of an oversupply of plastics on the market. Ethylene is the main building block in the manufacturing of plastic products.

“The company has told us that they just have no plans to restart the units now, or anytime in the future if the economy improves,” Faucheux said. “Most of the workers on those units have already been reassigned elsewhere within the company.”

The board also announced Tuesday the shutdown of the ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride monomer units at its Plaquemine facility near Baton Rouge. That move, which is scheduled to occur by the third quarter of 2011, will affect about 45 employees, some of whom may move into other positions.

Tuesday’s announcement comes on the heels of company-wide layoffs back in January that affected about 100 jobs at the St. Charles facility. Faucheux said the Hanville facility still has a workforce of about 1,000.

A statement from the company said the shutdowns, which are affecting seven facilities across the nation, would reduce Dow’s ethylene demand by about 30 percent. The company is moving away from the purchase and production of basic chemicals and shifting toward other specialty products

Andrew N. Liveris, Dow chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the company is taking active steps to reduce its manufacturing footprint as a result of the company’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Rohm and Haas, a former competitor. Faucheux said the acquisition will force Dow to sell a latex unit that was completed for the St. Charles facility in 2006.