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Huntsman Corp. Resumes Production at Texas, Louisiana Facilities



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Huntsman Corp. has resumed production at two Texas and Louisiana facilities that were closed last month as Hurricane Rita approached.

Production resumed Monday at a titanium dioxide plant in Lake Charles, La., and a butadiene facility in Port Neches, Texas, the company said.

Six of Huntsman's nine Gulf Coast ventures are back in operation.

Company spokesman Don Olsen said the other three plants, all in Jefferson County, Texas, could be operational within the next several days.

The Salt Lake City-based chemical-manufacturing company has informed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of its intention to restart those facilities.

"Gratefully, we didn't suffer any serious structural damage, but our ability to operate will still be dependent on raw material supply. That's the biggest unknown at this point," Olsen said.

In some cases, the company is unable to obtain raw materials needed for production. In others, customers have not restarted their operations and cannot accept Huntsman products, Olsen said.

"It's quite a domino chain out there that we all are having to deal with. This is a relatively small industry and we're all everybody else's customers and suppliers," he said. "Dealing with raw materials shortages changes almost on an hour-by-hour basis as everyone works hard to bring their facilities back up."

The butadiene facility, which is running at reduced rates, produces material used in synthetic rubber, tires, auto belts and hoses, "basically everything rubber under the hood of a car," Olsen said.

Titanium dioxide is a white pigment used in mirrors, paints, plastic, toothpaste and cosmetic products such as sunblock.

"Although work remains to be done, the restart of our (titanium dioxide) and butadiene plants is a clear sign of progress," said Peter Huntsman, president and CEO of Huntsman Corp.

Nearly 2,000 of Huntsman Corp.'s 11,300 employees work at Gulf Coast plants. Overall, the company has 57 operations in 22 countries and had 2004 revenues of $11.5 billion.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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