Ball plans expansion for Iowa plant
AMES, IOWA - After considering other options, Ball Corp. has decided to launch a major expansion of a PET container plant in Ames, according to several sources.
The company plans to add 200,000 square feet to its Ames plant, primarily for warehouse space, and install two PET bottle lines to serve that plant's soft drink and water customers, said several sources familiar with the project.
Ball, based in Broomfield, Colo., was seeking to invest about $25 million in the expansion for building and equipment and to increase blow molding capacity for PET beverage containers by 40 percent, said Phil Thomas, marketing manager for the Iowa Department of Economic Development.
Thomas could not confirm that Ball had decided to go ahead with its plans, but another source said Ball had given the project the green light. In talks with Iowa officials, the firm had said it was considering several sites in other states for the expansion.
``We were competing with other [Ball] plants inside the organization to keep the work in Iowa,'' Thomas said.
Ball executives were unavailable for comment prior to deadline. The company has six U.S. PET bottle plants.
The project would create 50 jobs immediately at the Ames plant, Thomas said. The plant also blow molds food containers.
To help with the project, the state's economic development department awarded Ball a $150,000 forgivable loan, issued in early February. The loan's only requirements are to hire workers from low- and moderate-income families, Thomas said.
GE Plastics cuts jobs in Selkirk, N.Y.
SELKIRK, N.Y. - GE Plastics is cutting 36 jobs at its resin-making and compounding plant in Selkirk.
``We're preparing to take costs out in what we think is going to be a tough year,'' GE Plastics spokesman Jay Pomeroy said.
Twenty-two of the cuts will come from early retirement. After the reduction, Pittsfield, Mass.-based GE Plastics will have about 500 employees in Selkirk. The site makes Noryl-brand polyphenylene oxide and other engineering resins and compounds.
Prior to the Selkirk announcement, GE Plastics had cut almost 220 jobs at sites in Mount Vernon, Ind.; Parkersburg, W.Va.; and Ottawa, Ill. About 170 of those cuts came from Mount Vernon, site of GE's largest North American polycarbonate plant.
``This is an ongoing thing,'' Pomeroy said of the job cuts. ``We'll continue to look at costs throughout the year as we see how our businesses are doing.''
Owens Corning shuts extrusion site
TOLEDO, OHIO - Toledo-based Owens Corning will permanently close its Mission, British Columbia, vinyl extrusion plant by June.
The facility hosts three extrusion lines for vinyl siding and employs 80. Spokesman Dave Dimmer said employees were notified last November that the facility would close in a gradual phaseout ending in June.
Dimmer could not divulge cost savings, but said the decision was ``due to economic conditions more specific to the region'' rather than vinyl siding market malaise. The U.S. industry declined slightly last year with shipments of 38.3 million squares in siding and soffit vs. nearly 38.5 million squares in 2000.
Health Canada seeks policy on DEHP
TORONTO - Some young children, particularly critically ill infants, and dialysis patients have relatively high long-term exposures to di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, according a new Canadian government study.
The Feb. 11 study from Health Canada, the country's medical device regulatory body, comes less than a month after an HC advisory panel of medical professionals released a similar report. The new report, labeled ``DEHP in Medical Devices: An Exposure and Toxicity Assessment,'' is prepared by agency staff.
DEHP is widely used as a softener in vinyl medical devices.
The study recommends that the agency develop a policy statement on DEHP use, but it noted that DEHP has some benefits and said that DEHP alternatives may pose other hazards. The advisory panel report, by contrast, recommended that DEHP alternatives be found relatively quickly in some applications.
The Phthalate Esters panel, a unit of the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va., said the report repeated earlier U.S. government reports that found little cause for concern for the health of most adults.