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GE Plastics reorganizes under new CEO

PITTSFIELD, MASS. - The recent reorganization of General Electric Co. will bring a new leader to the firm's plastics business.

Charlene Begley will take over as president and chief executive officer at Pittsfield-based GE Plastics on July 5. Begley, a 17-year GE veteran, currently is president and CEO of the rail unit of GE Transportation in Erie, Pa.

Begley replaces John Krenicki, who had run GE's plastics, silicones and quartz units under the GE Advanced materials name since early 2003. Krenicki now moves to GE Energy in Atlanta. John Dineen, GE Plastics' vice president of global product, will replace Begley at GE's rail unit.

Under the reorganization, the GE Plastics name will be revived and the unit will be placed within newly created GE Industrial, one of six industry-focused businesses. Previously, GE had operated with 11 businesses.

GE Plastics, produces polycarbonate, ABS and other specialty resins, and includes the Structured Products sheet and film business and GE Polymerland resin distribution unit.

In 2004, GE's combined plastics, silcones and quartz operations had sales of $8.3 billion.

Alberta storms slash Nova's PE supply

JOFFRE, ALBERTA - Severe storms and high winds have shut down six natural gas plants in western Canada, causing Nova Chemicals Corp. to declare force majeure on shipments to some of its polyethylene customers.

The storms hit Empress, Alberta, on June 21. The natural gas plants affected are owned by other companies, but supply ethane to Nova's major petrochemical complex in Joffre. The outage has cut off about half of Nova's ethane supply, which is used to make PE feedstock ethylene.

Dow Chemical Co. also operates a PE plant in the region at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, but Dow officials said the storms had ``no material impact'' on that operation. Dow receives some of its ethane supply from the affected plants, but also makes some ethane on-site and sources some from other suppliers, said Barb Korol, spokeswoman for Dow's Canadian operations.

Nova officials said that lost PE sales volumes will be between 70 million and 120 million pounds. The plant now is at 40 percent of capacity, but is expected to return to full strength by the end of the third quarter. The financial impact on Pittsburgh-based Nova's pre-tax earnings should be between $25 million and $50 million.

OSHA investigates phenol-related death

PITTSBURGH - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the June 18 death of a contract worker at Bayer Corp.'s plant in Baytown, Texas.

Salvador Barba, a 57-year-old maintenance mechanic, died after he was exposed to phenol during an accidental release of the corrosive chemical compound, said Bayer spokesman Bill Allan. Barba was flown by helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston after co-workers in protective covering came to his aid.

No fire or explosion precipitated the incident and there was no leak into the community, Allan said. Pittsburgh-based Bayer buys phenol from another firm does not produce it on-site.

``Polycarbonate production wasn't affected,'' Allan said in a telephone interview. ``The production facility is separate from where the accident occurred.'' The release took place in the Bayer Materials Science area of the plant. That section will remain barricaded until OSHA completes its investigation.

Barba worked for KBR, the engineering and construction group of Halliburton Co. of Houston.

Auto molder Hunjan seeks creditor relief

MARKHAM, ONTARIO - Automotive injection molder Hunjan International Inc. continues to operate its plants in Markham and in Anniston, Ala., while it attempts to restructure.

Hunjan, based in Markham, is operating under protection from creditors through Canada's federal Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, said Hunjan President Baljit Sierra. He said the firm hopes to complete refinancing by the end of July.

Sierra blamed weak market conditions and molding program delays for Hunjan's financial difficulties. The Tier 2 supplier injection molds interior, exterior and under-the-hood parts.