Shintech Inc. has chosen Iberville, La., as the location for a major new integrated PVC complex.
The location will be less than 10 miles away from Shintech's existing PVC plant in Addis, La. The site was chosen over a location near Shintech's Freeport, Texas, plant, because it sits on a larger parcel of land and has better deep-water access, according to plant manager David Wise.
Houston-based Shintech bought the Iberville site late last year from Ashland Inc. The site still includes an Ashland methanol plant that closed in 2000.
Construction on the new Shintech PVC complex is set to start in late spring or early summer. The $1 billion project will include 1.3 billion pounds of annual PVC capacity, as well as annual outputs of 1 billion pounds of chlorine, 1.1 billion pounds of caustic soda and 1.65 billion pounds of vinyl chloride monomer.
The project will create 200 permanent jobs. Half of the plant's capacity should be operational in late 2006, Wise said.
Unlike in 1998 - when legal challenges and protests from environmental groups led Shintech to scale back plans for a similar complex in Convent, La. - opposition has been limited. That earlier opposition led Shintech to build a PVC plant in Addis, instead of the integrated complex it wanted to build in Convent.
This time, members of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network attended a series of three public meetings Shintech hosted to discuss the project, but Shintech's Wise said a majority of those present supported the new plant.
Local media accounts appear to back up Wise's description of the atmosphere at those meetings, which drew a total of about 700 area residents, he said.
``We've received broad support from the community,'' he said. ``We've established operations [in Addis] and have developed a good reputation.''
Mary Lee Orr, LEAN executive director, said her group, an environmental organization with several thousand members, already has met with Shintech officials several times to discuss the project. Orr added that LEAN will work with Shintech and government officials throughout the permitting process.
``Our mission is always to look out for public health and exposure and worker exposure,'' Orr said. ``With Shintech, we'll look at everything from air monitoring to scrubbers.''
Orr added that LEAN has a chemist and chemical engineer on its staff. She said she's been pleased with the feedback and interaction her group has had with Shintech so far.
``I wish we could have a different facility, to be truthful, since it's an area that's already sensitive and overburdened [with chemical plants],'' Orr said. ``But if the community wants [the Shintech plant], our role is to continue to talk to Shintech to make sure it's as safe as it can be.''
Another difference from Shintech's 1998 setback will be the state's familiarity with Title 5 air permits. The permits were new to the state in 1998, creating lengthy delays in the Lousiana Department of Environmental Quality's ability to approve emission standards.
Wise estimated that the state has issued ``hundreds, if not thousands,'' of Title 5 permits since then.
A ceremony announcing the site selection, hosted Jan. 25 at Shintech's Addis site, featured Gov. Kathleen Blanco and state Economic Development Secretary Michael Olivier. Both Blanco and Olivier made positive remarks about the Shintech project and its economic value.