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July 11, 2012 | By | Posted in General News

Thermoplastics plant steps in to save refining jobs

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

Braskem America, a thermoplastics company, is purchasing part of Sunoco's former refinery in Marcus Hook outside of Philadelphia

 

HARRISBURG — More than 100 jobs at Sunoco’s former refinery in Marcus Hook will remain in Pennsylvania, thanks to its recent partial acquisition from thermoplastics operation Braskem America.

Before the refinery in the Philadelphia suburb shut down last year, however, it employed 590 workers.

Braskem will acquire propylene splitter assets at the refinery. The company had used the splitter to create a material called polypropylene found in automotive, houseware and packing goods.

Without access to the splitter, around 100 Braskem jobs also would left the area.

Gov. Tom Corbett attended the announcement of the deal Wednesday at the Delaware County refinery site.

“Braskem could have left Marcus Hook and consolidated its operations to one of the company’s existing plants in Texas or West Virginia, including its U.S. headquarters,” said Corbett in a news release. “Our efforts will ensure that Braskem will continue to be a job creating fixture in Pennsylvania for years to come.”

Braskem is investing at least $56 million into the expansion, and the state is contributing $15 million in grants.

However, state funding is contingent on Braskem creating at least 28 new full-time jobs and retaining 119 direct and contracted refinery employees for at least five years.

Braskem also is required to retain 90 jobs at its Philadelphia headquarters and 10 jobs at its Technology and Innovation Center in Pittsburgh.

The acquisition is the latest announcement regarding the future of three southeastern Pennsylvania refineries in danger of closing their doors.

Earlier this year, Delta Air Lines announced the purchase of the ConocoPhillips refinery as a fuel subsidiary, and Sunoco partnered with the Carlyle Group to keep a southern Philadelphia refinery open.

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Eric Boehm is a reporter for PA Independent. He can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com or at (717) 350-0963.

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