Haverhill VP: status still uncertain

By Portia Williams

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As the current state of affairs at Haverhill Chemical Plant continue to be questionable, Tom Wells, vice president of the Haverhill facility, said nothing is definitive right now.

“Nothing is definitive yet. We are still working through some things,” Wells told the Daily Times. “I thought we would have something to announce yesterday (Wednesday), but we didn’t get everything done. Our goal right now is to issue a release by noon today (Thursday), but until we do that everything is subject to change. So it would be inappropriate for us to say anything.”

By mid-Thursday afternoon, no released had been yet issued.

When asked about recent layoffs at Haverhill, Wells said no Haverhill Chemical employees have been laid off, and that contractors are typically laid off before plant employees.

“Haverhill Chemical has about 141 employees at the plant,” he said. “Understand that in a chemical plant you have contractors who do certain things, and that labor force is always one that can be expanded and contracted, they are not employees, and that’s the nature of the relationship there. That happens in the normal course of business.”

He said there have been numerous problems at the Haverhill Chemical Plant.

“This facility has never operated based upon what our expectations were,” he said. “And that has led to additional problems as you know. The company had a fatality last year in the BPA Unit. The BPA Unit was down for a number of months and that clearly had an economic impact. It has been a significant capital investment made in that plant, which has a financial impact as well.”

Declining oil prices has also impacted the progress of the chemical plant.

“On top of that, problems were further exacerbated by the decline in prices, as the result of oil price decline last year,” he said. “The primary feed stock for the plant is cumin, which is priced largely on benzine which has a correlation to the prices accrued. That has an impact on the margins of the company which were not particularly high to start with.”

He said the plant will make the proper announcements after necessary work is completed.

“I think it would be most appropriate to wait until we have something to announce. That will bring more clarity to it. He said. “I wish it could have been done yesterday, but there is work to be done, and there are a number of parties that are involved in that, so it wouldn’t be appropriate right now.”

Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.

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