Formosa blast could affect Armstrong flooring
Vinyl flooring leader Armstrong Holdings Inc. is feeling the impact of the explosion that destroyed Formosa Plastics Corp. USA's PVC plant in Illinois last month.
In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, officials with Lancaster, Pa.-based Armstrong said the firm could see ``temporary disruption'' in production of some of its vinyl flooring products as a result of the April 23 incident that left five workers dead and a sixth in critical condition.
Armstrong officials also said in the filing that the firm is trying to secure alternative sources of PVC and is evaluating product formulation changes that would reduce its PVC use. The explosion could affect almost 20 percent of Armstrong's product mix, based on first quarter results.
Formosa spokesman Rob Thibault said his firm is working with customers to find other PVC suppliers. In cases such as Armstrong's, where Formosa was ``an important supplier,'' Thibault said Formosa officials ``have been in contact on a daily basis.''
Armstrong officials could not be reached for further comment.
Formosa's Illiopolis, Ill., plant accounted for as much as half of North American capacity for flooring-grade PVC, according to industry estimates.
The cause of the accident remains unknown, and Formosa is unsure when the plant will be restarted. Since the accident, Formosa has provided medical testing for vinyl chloride monomer exposure to more than 300 firefighters, police officers, paramedics, employees and area residents who were at or near the scene.
All of those tests came back negative, Thibault said.
``From the air monitoring, we knew there was no evidence of any dangerous levels [of VCM], but we wanted everyone to feel comfortable,'' Thibault said of the testing.
Armstrong has operated under Chapter 11 protection, largely because of asbestos-related lawsuits, since December 2000. The firm lost about $10 million in 2003 on sales of $3.26 billion.