Robins & Morton breaks ground on Olin project

Olin Chlor Alkali Products broke ground Friday on a state-of-the-art membrane cell manufacturing facility at its Charleston plant.

The $160 million facility is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012. The new plant will have a production capacity of 200,000 tons. It will produce chlorine, caustic soda, potassium hydroxide and related products.

Olin Chlor Alkali Products President Frank Chirumbole said the new plant is the foundation of tomorrow.

“We are proud to make chlor alkali products. They are essential for the quality of life we all enjoy. It is not an exaggeration to say life as we know it would not be possible without chlor alkali products.”

He said the company is delighted to make this investment in the Charleston community where the plant has been located since it opened in 1962.

“We are especially grateful to the state of Tennessee, which has provided generous incentives to assist with the financing of the project, including $41 million of tax-exempt variable rate Recovery Zone Facility bonds,” Chirumbole said.

The Charleston plant is a key supplier of building block chemicals to many Tennessee companies. Olin employs approximately 320 people in Tennessee. Its products play a key role in water disinfection and food processing, and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, plastics, paper and electronics. The plant is one of 10 Olin Chlor Alkali facilities in North America.

Charleston Mayor Walter Goode said Olin has demonstrated time and again its commitment to the community during its 50 years by hiring local residents, supporting schools, working toward a safer environment and supporting dreams of the future.

“We are very proud of Olin Corp. and humbled by their desire to reinvest in our community, and grow and prosper with us,” Goode said. “Olin has been an excellent corporate partner with the city of Charleston. Through this investment they are making today, we look forward to sharing another 50 years of success together.”

Olin Chlor Alkali Products, based in Cleveland, is one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of chlorine and caustic soda and is North America’s largest manufacturer of industrial bleach. It is owned by Olin Corp. based in Clayton, Mo.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in a press release, “Olin is a well-respected corporate citizen in Bradley County, and we appreciate the company’s continued commitment to and investment in the community. Established Tennessee companies such as Olin provide a solid foundation on which our state’s economy will continue to grow.”

Tennessee Economic Community Development Assistant Commissioner of Existing Industry Kingsley Brock described Olin as a magnet.

“I can’t tell you how many times every year a company calls me about a project and says they need to be close to Olin to purchase the materials this company makes,” Brock said.

Olin Chlor Alkali Products recently awarded Robins & Morton Power and Industrial Division an $80 million contract to convert the Charleston plant from mercury cell to membrane technology. Gary Martin, Robins & Morton senior program manager, said the project will employ an estimated 400 construction workers. Martin successfully completed a similar project for Olin in McIntosh, Ala., in 1996.

Olin announced the $160 million conversion project in December 2010.