Haverhill Chemicals

Published 10:52 am Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Looking for buyer; laying off workers

HAVERHILL — As the owners of the beleaguered Haverhill Chemicals try to find a buyer, right now employees there are out of a job.

Workforce at the 54-year-old plant has been cut to approximately 25 percent of its typical capacity, by owner, Goradia Capital, who took over the operation in 2011.

According to a letter sent out to workers on Thursday their employment was terminated the next day.

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“You were informed on Aug. 3 that Haverhill was looking at opportunities to sell the Ohio plant and as a result your employment was being extended through Aug. 21,’” the letter states. “Unfortunately the company has not been able to conclude a transaction which would keep the plant open.”

Rumors started in early June that the plant would shut down in 60 days following the layoffs of more than 60 members of the Tri-State Building Trades union.

At that time the union workers were cut to 11 while typically there are 75 union workers at the site with a total employment of 175.

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

According to the ICIS website the Haverhill plant makes approximately 11 percent of the total U.S. production of BPA.

In October the plant was cited by OSHA for 21 serious safety violations following the death of employee James Morrison after an incident at the plant earlier in 2014.

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

The estate of Morrison filed a lawsuit against Goradia for $25 million.

Despite the layoffs the company’s letter to its workers said it was still actively seeking a new owner.

“Negotiations are continuing with a prospective buyer but no agreement has been reached,” the letter states. “It is possible that you may receive a new offer of employment within the next few weeks, but there is no guarantee this will happen.”

Workers were to be paid through last week along with any accrued personal time off. Medical coverage will stay in effect until Aug. 31.