GE Advanced Materials has declared force majeure on its Ultem polyetherimide resin after a late April ``unforeseen malfunction'' at a plant in Mount Vernon, Ind.
The Ultem plant has been operating at ``significantly reduced production rates'' since the late April incident, which occurred in one of the plant's critical reactors, Timothy O'Brien said in a May 2 letter to customers. O'Brien is vice president and general manager of plastics in the Americas for Pittsfield, Mass.-based GEAM.
After the incident, GEAM originally planned to shut down the plant for about four weeks beginning May 23. But spokesman Terry Dunn said May 12 that recent modifications will allow the plant to continue operating at reduced rates while repairs are made. Dunn declined to provide details of the incident, but said no employees were injured and there was no environmental impact.
GEAM had said it would fill customer orders at 40 percent of the previous three quarters' order levels from May 2 until about June 5. Dunn declined to say if that arrangement was still in place, saying only that ``an allocation process has been implemented.''
Dunn added that the 18-year-old plant should be back at full production by the end of the year. Originally, according to the letter, GEAM expected to fill orders at 80 percent of historical purchase levels for several months after reaching full production.
Mount Vernon is GEAM's only Ultem production site. The firm plans to open an Ultem plant in Cartagena, Spain, in 2007.