Rouse Polymerics International Inc. will reopen its Vicksburg site early next year with a state-of-the-art facility to make high-end polymers from recycled rubber, according to CEO Michael Rouse.
``We won't do all the generic, 80-mesh stuff we did before,'' Rouse said. ``It will only be 75 microns or finer, or else custom-blended materials.''
The facility, with three production lines, should be completed by the end of January, with all operations on stream by spring, according to Rouse. He didn't comment on construction costs or the plant's total size, but said by spring the company should have about 20 employees, compared with the 14 he has now. ``It's nothing compared to the 115 I had before,'' he said.
Until earlier this year, Rouse Polymerics was one of the most successful companies in the rubber recycling industry. The firm specialized in elastomeric and plastic powders, asphalt roofing and pavement modifiers, and specialty polymer blends, and was renowned for its research and development activities.
On May 16, however, the Rouse plant was destroyed in an explosion and fire that killed five workers and injured seven. Two of the injured workers will be in outpatient therapy ``for a long time to come,'' Rouse said.
The company is continuing to supply its long-term customers in the high-end polymer market by using space and equipment at other facilities pending completion of the new plant, according to Rouse.
``I've always had one or two lines up'' since the explosion, he said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which approved Rouse Polymerics' cleanup plans in August, still is investigating the cause of the explosion.
The local OSHA office in Jackson, Miss., will issue a report within the next few weeks, said Clyde Payne, OSHA area director in Jackson. He declined further comment.
Rouse said he expected the report as early as Nov. 15. ``I suppose there will be a fairly healthy fine, because of the loss of life,'' he said. ``I'm not looking forward to that.''