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Storm-damaged BioLab plant to be rebuilt

Alongside Governor John Bel Edwards, BioLab has announced a $170 million investment to build a new chlorine product facility in Westlake, Louisiana. Due to be completed in May 2022, it will create 82 direct jobs and an estimated 231 indirect ones, while facilitating the retention of 19 more.

The new facility will be on the site of its predecessor, which was first built in 1979 and was badly damaged by Hurricane Laura in August 2020. As well as the chemical unit, the project will include shipping, maintenance, laboratory and a machine shop. It will make trichloroisocyanuric acid (TCCA), a chlorine-based sanitiser for use in swimming pools and spas. Demand in this field reportedly boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of people were confined to their homes.

The plant was rendered “inoperable” after Laura, a Category 4 hurricane ripped through on 27 August 2020 and set off fires that burned for three days. Afterwards, BioLab, a subsidiary of Canada’s KIK Custom Products, laid off the 100 employees, though it said that it would honour the terms of its collective agreement with them.

BioLab committed to rebuilding from the outset but needed tax breaks and other incentives from the state of Louisiana to make it happen. In its incentive application in April, the Board of Commerce and Industry had a sum of $142.6 million under consideration. It was also reported that BioLan would get an 80% property tax exemption worth $16.7 million over ten years, subject to local authority approval.

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