WR Grace to close Louisiana plant

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) -- Chemical and materials maker W. R. Grace & Co. said Friday that it will close a plant in southwestern Louisiana because the technology used there is outdated.

A representative for the company could not be reached immediately to say whether the move would lead to job cuts.

W.R. Grace, based in Columbia, Md., makes catalysts for oil refiners as well as packing and construction materials.

The plant it's closing makes silica sol-based fluidized catalytic cracking catalyst, a product used in refining petroleum. The plant is in Lake Charles, La.

The company said that it introduced silica sol catalysts in the late 1970s but it has grown out of date.

"We believe the silica sol catalyst technology has reached the end of its life cycle," Shawn Abrams, President of Grace Catalysts Technologies, said in a statement. "Other technologies in our portfolio are meeting the demands of modern day refiners far more effectively."

W.R. Grace reported Thursday that its second-quarter net income increased 20 percent on higher prices and growth in emerging markets. But its revenue fell and its forecast for the year disappointed.

The company has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since 2001 to resolve its asbestos-related liabilities. Health officials say hundreds of people have been killed in a Montana town and many more sickened by exposure to asbestos dust. The material came from a former Grace mine near the town.

Shares fell $3.05, nearly 4 percent, to close at $75.40 Friday.