Damaged Illinois dam hinders some US PS production

26 April 2013 18:13  [Source: ICIS news]

Damaged Illinois dam hinders some US PS productionHOUSTON (ICIS)--Damage to the Marseilles Lock and Dam on the Illinois river caused by recent flooding in the midwest has resulted in some production shortfalls for some US polystyrene (PS) producers, sources said on Friday.

Five of the Marseille dam's eight gates were damaged on 18 April, after seven barges struck the dam during a period of heavy flooding, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. The dam remains closed as the Corps continues assessing damages, and barge removal continues.

In the meantime, barge traffic has been stopped along the river, which has caused some production shortfalls at upstream PS plants, sources said.

Styrolution's 400,000 tonne/year PS plant in Joliet, Illinois, has had to limit production following the incident, as the plant has had difficulty obtaining feedstock styrene, which is delivered by barge up the Illinois river, sources said.

So far, the plant has not allocated deliveries to customers, but that may be necessary if the situation does not improve soon, said a source close to the company.

"Barges are lined up in both directions," the source said. "We will have to wait to see how that plays out."

Americas Styrenics also has a 125,000 tonne/year PS plant in Joliet, Illinois. One source said that plant had received styrene deliveries before the dam closed, adding that it did not believe there had been any significant production shortfalls.

However, further shipment delays could eventually result in delayed shipments of PS, the source said.

"The reports keep getting better and better," the source said, adding that it expects the situation will be resolved in the next week or so.

A company spokesperson for Americas Styrenics could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Marseilles Lock and Dam, located in Marseilles, Illinois, is operated and maintained by the Rock Island District of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The dam incorporates eight movable gates that raise and lower to maintain a pool with a minimum nine-foot navigation channel, the Corps said in a Thursday press release.

Following the barge accident, high water from area flooding made the dam inaccessible so the gates could not be inspected until 21 April when some of the water had receded.

An initial inspection determined that five of the gates were damaged. Two of those gates sustained tearing of the steel facing, resulting in 15-20 foot holes in the gates.

"Corps of Engineers dam safety officials and structural engineers are working to determine the extent of the damage caused by the barge impacts and high river flows," said Tom Heinold, deputy chief of the Operations Division for the Rock Island District. "As soon as conditions permit, the Corps will perform engineering analyses for use in developing repair and recovery plants, ensuring that the dam can be returned to an operational status as soon as possible."

Heinold said a combination of temporary measures, followed by permanent repairs, will mean that the Marseilles navigation pool will be reestablished as soon as possible.

By: Michelle Klump
+1 713 525 2653

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