Chinese company nixes plans for Louisiana chemical complex site

Published 10:21 pm Saturday, September 7, 2019

Chinese chemical giant Wanhua has dropped its land use application for a chemical manufacturing site in Louisiana, saying it has changed the project’s scope and is considering another site.

Company officials had said earlier that construction costs at the Convent site had ballooned to $2 billion from the $1.25 billion originally planned, St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel told The Advocate .

He also said a company that had offered land in expectation of selling chlorine to Wanhua took back the offer after the proposed polyurethane complex was scaled back to a facility that wouldn’t need chlorine.

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Wanhua dropped its land use application for a 250-acre (101 hectare) site in an email Wednesday, which the newspaper obtained through a public records request.

“As you are aware, the project scope has changed and a new project location is under review,” wrote William Day of Wanhua Chemical U.S. Operations. “Given these two changes to the project, Wanhua respectfully withdraws the application.”

Day declined on Friday to say what increased the construction costs, the newspaper reported.

Environmental groups that had fought the plans called it a victory of David over Goliath.

The company had said in November 2018 that the project would create 170 direct jobs and 1,000 construction jobs.

Day had said previously that the company is committed to a U.S. plant. On Wednesday, he left open the possibility that it might still be in the parish.

“Wanhua will initiate a new application should a St. James Parish site be selected for the revised project,” Day wrote. “We appreciate the relationship we have with the St. James Parish leadership and wish you the best.”