Hurricane Katrina has killed hundreds, left thousands destitute, precipitated looting, submerged New Orleans and battered the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi and southern Alabama. It also has stunted industry, including plastics manufacturers, in the area.
According to Tarnell Co. LLC, a Providence, R.I., credit service provider, some 260 plastics processing plants are in the affected area. Those plants:
* Process nearly 3 billion pounds of resin annually, at a cost of more than $172 million.
* Operate 1,500 injection molding machines, 500 pieces of extrusion equipment, and 150 blow molding machines.
* Are owned by 158 parent companies.
Of the plants, 47 percent are injection molders, 37 percent are extruders and the remaining 16 percent use other processes.
Tarnell is contacting each of the companies to determine the extent of damage to the plants, downtime, contingency plans in place and immediate business needs, according to spokeswoman Lisa K. Lavery.
Fortunately, few processors contacted by Plastics News are reporting significant property damage. Rather, most now are stalled by lack of power, water and natural gas, and downed phone lines.
``We're getting very limited info out of there, but we believe the building has only suffered minor damage,'' Greg Brock of Midland, Texas-based Western Container Corp. said Aug. 31. The blow molder's Hattiesburg, Miss., site is unable to function without electricity and natural gas, and the company has not been able to communicate with most of the plant's 140 employees. Sister company Southeastern Container Corp. will help compensate for lost capacity, Brock said.
Nashotah, Wis.-based Dickten & Masch LLC also runs a facility in Hattiesburg, and officials are suffering with similar uncertainty.
``We're not sure at what point power will be restored,'' said President Randy Perry. Until it is, the company is shifting work to Nashotah.
Advanced Polybag Inc. temporarily has moved its headquarters from Metarie, La., to Houston, and its plant in Kenner, La., is closed temporarily, said Victor Platta, vice president of sales and marketing.
``But this should not impact our immediate overall output, since we have four other API plants,'' he said in an e-mail. API has not been able to assess damage to either Louisiana site.
Intralox LLC has extrusion and injection molding capabilities in Harahan, La. Spokesman Paul Horton said the company has generators on the way.
``We expect some molding to resume in Harahan as soon as utility service allows, while locating some of our molds at outside molders for as long as we need the capacity,'' he said by e-mail.
Dave Clarke, co-owner of Mega/McNeely Plastic Products in Clinton, Miss., said the blown film and converting facility reopened for business Sept. 1.
``Some of our employees whose homes still do not have power left their families and came into work. Two or three families with children actually sleep in the air-conditioned offices rather than go to homes without power.''
Two Mega/McNeely managers also took generators, gas, oil, water and soft drinks to help families of employees at its warehouse in Laurel, Miss. Clarke said police-patrolled gas stations have made gassing up a three- to four-hour process.
He listed other plastics processors that were forced to shut down without power or water. Polyethylene extruder Summit Plastics Inc. and flexible-packaging manufacturer Dixie Packaging Inc., both of Summit, Miss., and R&B Packaging of Tylertown, Miss., were closed. Mississippi Plastic Bag and Packaging of Bolton reopened Sept. 1, he said.
Southern Film & Bag LLC of Summit, a division of Shawano, Wis.-based Wisconsin Film & Bag Inc., also was down, without running water or electricity. Jack Riopelle, president of Wisconsin Film, said, ``Fortunately our plant only sustained a small amount of damage.''
Injection molder Accu-Tech Plastics of Batesville, Miss., Mississippi Polymers Inc. of Corinth, Miss., and Diversified Manufacturing Inc. of Pearl, Miss., all reopened after brief setbacks. Production at Afco Plastic Products of Olive Branch, Miss., was not affected by the storm, but corporate offices closed for a day.
Plastics News was unable to reach some processors because of downed phone lines.