NEW MARTINSVILLE, W.Va. (Oct. 16) — Bayer MaterialScience will cease production of the polyurethane processing material methylene diphenyl diisocyanate at its New Martinsville plant June 30, putting 230 workers out of a job.
"The economies of scale are changing in the MDI marketplace, and Bayer is consolidating production to several world-scale plants, including its plant in Baytown, Texas," said Jim Covington, New Martinsville´s general plant manager. Bayer said it would offer employment assistance to all affected employees.
"Changing technology capabilities and market requirements have led to new standards for world-scale facilities," Bayer said. The company is consolidating MDI production into expanded facilities in Baytown, and world-scale plants in Urdingen and BrunsbÃ¼ttel, Germany; and Tarragona, Spain.
The group also is building the world´s largest single-train MDI facility, with annual capacity of 350,000 metric tons, in Caojing, China, expected on stream in 2008. By comparison, Martinsville has an annual capacity of 72,500 tons.
"By concentrating our capacities in these high-technology, high-performance facilities, we are ideally equipped for the future and will be able to react to increased global demand for MDI with cost-effective production," said Michael Koenig, Bayer senior vice president of global production and technology in isocyanates.
Bayer recently announced an $8 million upgrade to expand New Martinsville´s specialty polyether production and said it will invest a further $23.6 million in the plant´s infrastructure in the next two years.
The company said New Martinsville will continue to be a transloading and distribution center for material from Baytown. The New Martinsville facility also will continue to produce other isocyanates and polyols, coatings raw materials and thermoplastic polyurethanes, Covington added.