Future unknown

Published 10:38 am Friday, June 12, 2015

Haverhill Chemicals continues its temporary shutdown


HAVERHILL — The fate of a more than 50-year corporation in the region remains unknown.

Tom Wells, a vice president of Goradia Capital, owners of Haverhill Chemicals, said an announcement should come soon.

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Right now, company officials are saying the plant is only undergoing a temporary shutdown.

“Haverhill Chemicals is working to define ways to be competitive in its market,” according to a company statement. “ At this time the company is idling units to ensure materials are stored safely. This impacts the facility and it is unknown at this time how long it will remain in this shutdown. Haverhill Chemicals has said it will continue to communicate with its employees and stakeholders as it moves through this issue.”

This after more than 60 members of the Tri-State Building Trades union were laid off earlier this week.

“We are down to 11 people from the building trades union,” Mark Johnson, business manager of the trades hall, said on Thursday.

Typically, there are 75 union workers at the plant that has a total employment of 175. At times there could be up to 200 union workers doing maintenance and turnaround work at the plant.

Rumors started on Tuesday that the chemical plant would shut down in 60 days.

The plant makes a variety of chemicals from petroleum-based feedstock including phenol and bisphenol A or BPA.

According to ICIS website, the Haverhill site produces approximately 11 percent of the total U.S. production of BPA. Word of the possible shutdown prompted fears of price increases or dependence on imports.

Other companies who produce the chemical include Bayer, Dow Chemical, Hexion and SABIC, according to the ICIS report.

In October Haverhill Chemicals was cited by OSHA for 21 serious safety violations following the death of James Morrison after an incident at the plant on April 4, 2014, according to an OSHA news release.

The 61-year-old Morrison was cleaning out a drain line when chemicals sprayed on him resulting in fatal injuries.

According to an OSHA release at that time “the inspection found plant officials failed to ensure misaligned pipes and expansion joints were repaired properly and adequate safety shields were installed before placing the reactor back in service.”

Two months ago the estate of Morrison filed a lawsuit against Goradia Capital for $25 million.

The Haverhill plant opened in 1961 as a joint operation between Pittsburgh Chemical and Amoco. In 1966 USS Chemical purchased the joint venture. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the plant underwent multiple expansions.

In 1986 the plant became Aristech Chemical; later it was acquired from Mitsubishi Corp. and then Sunoco. In 2011 Goradia Capital bought the operation.