BRUCE NICHOLS, REUTERS
Dow Chemical Co. and the Department of Energy are at odds over a potential government purchase of a site near Dow’s largest plant to expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The land, part of an area known as Stratton Ridge southwest of Houston, contains an underground salt deposit that would be hollowed out to store oil. Dow says the deposit is a crucial source of chlorine used to make half the chemicals produced at its Freeport plant. The facility makes a fifth of Dow products sold worldwide. Loss of the resource would threaten the viability of the 65-year-old complex that now employs 6,000, Dow says.
Local officials, union leaders and neighboring companies that buy from or supply Dow have joined in opposition to forcing Dow to give up the site.
The Stratton Ridge site is one of five in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas that the government is considering for expansion of the reserve. Plans call for a decision by the end of August, the Energy Department’s David Johnson said.
“They’ve asked us politely to take a look at other salt domes,” said Johnson, noting officials in Mississippi and Louisiana want their states to be chosen. “We’ll take that into consideration.”