Roughly 100 of the 183 employees at TPC Group's Port Neches butadiene extraction facility face layoffs as the company works to rebuild the site in the wake of two Nov. 27 explosions and multiple fires.
Operations at the Texas facility have stopped as TPC rebuilds, an endeavor that will take at least two years, according to findings provided by third-party engineering reports that were commissioned by the company.
Salaried and hourly workers were informed of the layoffs during a Feb. 25 meeting, and TPC said it only will retain workers needed to maintain the terminal operations until the facility is back to full operation. Once that happens, those impacted by the layoffs will have an opportunity to return.
"The company has plans for growth beyond that point," TPC said, "which would require talented and dedicated resources, and the impacted employees would have an opportunity to apply for those positions at that time."
Rebuilding the facility, however, is just the start, according to TPC. The company noted that additional permitting and preparation "results in an approximate five-year timeline for resumption of production at Port Neches."
Laid-off hourly employees will receive pay and benefits through April 30. The company said it is working with the five unions that represent Port Neches workers to identify those who can fill positions for terminal operations.
Officials of United Steelworkers Local 13-228, which organizes some of the hourly workers at the Port Neches site, could not be reached for comment.
TPC is also providing outplacement services for salaried employees. Laid-off salaried employees are eligible for severance benefits and will receive their 2019 bonuses, according to the company.
TPC eliminated the positions of 11 salaried employees at Port Neches. Fourteen others, it said, have been tapped for other positions within the company, but 10 will have to relocate.
"Most of these were open roles or roles occupied by a full-time contractor," TPC said.
The Port Neches facility was rocked by two explosions that resulted in multiple butadiene-fueled fires Nov. 27. Five towers and 12 tanks were damaged at the site. At this time, the facility is secure, TPC said, and response teams are working to ensure their efforts come to a safe end.
"The work being done today — to deinventory materials from the site and further de-risk the facility — is setting the foundation for site recovery," the company said. "TPC Group continues to believe it has a sound plan for the path forward and sufficient liquidity to weather this difficult period."