After almost a half-century of producing PVC, Keysor-Century Corp. will stop resin production at the end of this month.
The Saugus, Calif.-based firm, which has been operating in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since March, will continue to operate as a PVC compounder, but will lay off an unspecified number of its 128 employees, President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Keysor said in a Dec. 10 telephone interview.
The firm had defaulted on an $8 million loan and owed almost $3.7 million to its 20 largest unsecured creditors. Keysor also had clashed with federal and state agencies in recent years, with the FBI accusing the company of falsifying emissions data and the state fining the firm almost $220,000 for allegedly exposing workers to dangerous levels of hazardous chemicals, including vinyl chloride monomer.
Keysor is appealing the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration fine, but no date has been set for a hearing, according to state OSHA spokeswoman Susan Gard. Since 1994, Keysor has been cited on three separate occasions for safety and regulatory violations and has been fined more than $14,000.
``California is not a friendly state, especially for heavy industry,'' Robert Keysor said. ``We're not closing [resin production] to come into compliance [with emissions standards], since we've said all along that we're in compliance. Part of the closing is because of the regulatory situation and part of it is because of the economy.''
Keysor's sales are expected to be around $45 million this year, compared with a little more than $50 million in 2001. Robert Keysor declined to specify the plant's PVC resin capacity, but a 1999 industry estimate placed it at 60 million pounds annually. Keysor said that the firm traditionally used one-third of its PVC output in its own compounds and sold the remaining two-thirds on the open market.
He added that the state probably would have to change its strict regulations before his firm could restart resin production.
``The health and safety of the community is paramount, but I think there's a question of whether some of these government agencies are working with us or against us,'' Keysor said.
An FBI search of the site in February found the company to be making resin beyond its capacity, causing equipment to malfunction and release dangerous levels of VCM, FBI officials said in a Dec. 10 story in the Los Angeles Times.
The Environmental Protection Agency worked with the FBI in its investigation of Keysor. Officials with the EPA's San Francisco office could not be reached for comment.
Keysor has begun to form a plan to come out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has not sought additional financing since its initial filing.
``We're cooperating with our creditors, and our plan is coming along well,'' Robert Keysor said.
Keysor-Century first launched PVC production in Burbank, Calif., in 1953 before moving the operation to Saugus in 1957. For many years, the Saugus complex was a major producer of vinyl records. Keysor also operated a compounding operation in Newark, Del., which closed in 2000.