HOUSTON, March 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Westlake Chemical Corporation (NYSE: WLK) confirmed today that the fire which occurred at its Geismar, Louisiana, vinyls complex the morning of March 22, 2012, was extinguished and fully contained within several hours and resulted in no injuries or health risk to nearby residents and businesses. The fire and associated damage was confined to a portion of the site that produces vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), an intermediate product used in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) at the site. PVC is a common material used for a variety of building products such as pipe, siding, windows and fence. An investigation into the cause of the incident is being conducted, and the company is cooperating and working closely with governmental authorities, including the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, and OSHA. Additionally, the company will be engaging a third-party to conduct an independent review of the incident.
Repairs to the damaged equipment are in progress. It is currently estimated that the total vinyls complex will be returned to normal operations by mid-May and sections of the site's operations, including the PVC plant, may be operable earlier. It is estimated that the lost production, repair costs and other expenditures resulting from this incident will be approximately $5 million to $7 million.
The company has notified its PVC resin customers and suppliers of a force majeure event as a result of the incident at Geismar and is working directly with each of them to mitigate the impact as soon as possible.
"We want to express our gratitude to the fire and police departments and other members of the emergency response team," said Albert Chao, President and CEO of Westlake. "We are thankful that no injuries occurred and that the incident was quickly contained and safely resolved. Our team is dedicated to returning the site to full operations to serve our customers as soon as it can be safely restarted."
Westlake Chemical Corporation (WLK)
Westlake Chemical Corporation is an international manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and building products with headquarters in Houston, Texas. The company's range of products includes: ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, caustic, VCM, PVC resin and PVC building products including PVC pipe, windows and fence. For more information, including career opportunities, visit the company's website at http://www.westlake.com.
The statements in this release relating to matters that are not historical facts, including the ability of the Geismar plant to restart operations at any date certain and the mitigation of any force majeure event, are forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance, and the ability of the Geismar facility to begin operating in the future could differ materially, based on multiple factors including, but not limited to: general economic and business conditions; the cyclical nature of the chemical industry; availability, cost and volatility of raw materials and utilities, including natural gas from shale production; uncertainties associated with the United States and worldwide economies, including those due to global economic and financial conditions; delays and cost overruns associated with expansion and construction projects; governmental regulatory actions, including environmental regulation; political unrest; industry production capacity and operating rates; the supply/demand balance for Westlake's products; competitive products and pricing pressures; access to capital markets; technological developments; the effect and results of litigation and settlements of litigation; operating interruptions; the ability to find replacement parts and other goods needed to restart the plant, and other risk factors. For more detailed information about the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, please refer to Westlake's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011, which was filed with the SEC in February 2012.
SOURCE Westlake Chemical Corporation