Astaris closing Idaho phosphorus plant, cutting 300 jobs

11 October 2001 17:07 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (CNI)--The Astaris joint venture will cease elemental phosphorus production at its Pocatello, Idaho plant by year end, eliminating 310 jobs with venture parent FMC assuming responsibility for decommissioning and any remediation necessary, FMC told CNI Thursday.

FMC referred all other questions on the closing to the St Louis, Missouri-based joint venture but no one was immediately available at Astaris to discuss the situation. According to information on the Astaris Web site, the 310 jobs at Pocatello would constitute about 31% of the company's total employment of 1000.

Astaris is a 50:50 joint venture of FMC and Solutia, which also has its headquarters in St Louis.

In a statement, FMC said it expects the closure to improve the joint venture's competitive position by switching more feedstock to lower cost purified phosphoric acid.

As owner of the plant before creation of the joint venture, FMC said it will work with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "remediate the site in an environmentally sound way."

In its statement on the decision, Astaris described it as an "important move" in a "continuing strategy of shifting the emphasis of its raw material supply from elemental phosphorus to purified phosphoric acid (PPA)."

To that end, Astaris said it has entered a long-term PPA supply arrangement with Canada's Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS), which is to complete an expansion at its plant in Aurora, North Carolina.

Astaris also noted the recent start-up of its own PPA investment in Soda Springs, Idaho.

By Gary Taylor