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DuPont to Close South Philadelphia Lab

DuPont Co. told workers at its Marshall Laboratory in South Philadelphia that the plant will close by June, idling 265, as the company cuts 2,000 worldwide in its latest round of layoffs.

 

DuPont Co. told workers at its Marshall Laboratory in South Philadelphia that the plant will close by June, idling 265, as the company cuts 2,000 worldwide in its latest round of layoffs.
 
The "close-knit" workforce includes children and grandchildren of past Marshall workers, plant manager Robert Roop said. "Some of the work will be stopped. Some will be absorbed to other DuPont locations."
 
The automotive-paint lab, manufacturing and testing facility has been run by DuPont since 1917, when it bought a lead-based paint works on the 25-acre Grays Ferry Avenue site.
DuPont has not announced plans for the property.
 
"We'll do the studies and meet all our obligations around environmental remediation," Roop said.
 
DuPont, which is based in Wilmington, said yesterday that it was cutting jobs and closing plants serving the "declining" automotive, construction, and industrial markets, while investing more in solar-electric and seed production for growing markets in China.
 
DuPont employs about 10,000 workers and contractors in Wilmington, its suburbs, and at Carneys Point and other sites in South Jersey.
 
Marshall is DuPont's only plant in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
 
The company had announced 2,500 layoffs last year, besides eliminating about 10,000 contractor jobs.
 
Employees affected by the latest round of cuts will be notified this week, DuPont spokesman Anthony Farina said. He declined to say how many others in this region would be affected.
DuPont announced last month that its first-quarter profit had fallen 59 percent in the last year, to $488 million from $1.19 billion.
 
Although DuPont's agricultural products have been selling "very well," Farina said, the outlook has worsened for automotive, construction, and industrial products.
 
"The severity of the global recession has escalated," he said. The company said it believed that some shifts, such as the decline in auto production in North America and an increase in Eastern Europe and India, were permanent.
 
In the auto market, DuPont is now focusing on helping manufacturers reduce the weight of their cars and improve sustainability.
 
Earlier this week, DuPont opened a photovoltaic center at its R&D facility in Shanghai. Farina said that he did not know how many people would work on photovoltaic products, but that the Shanghai center had about 300 employees.
 
"The world has changed so significantly over the last year," Farina said. "You need to take actions now to properly position yourself for when the global economy will rebound, and it will."
The company announced in April that it would reduce "fixed costs" this year by $1 billion instead of the originally planned $730 million.
 
The entire chemical industry has been affected by the slowdown.
 
Rival Dow Chemical Co. has cut 10,000 jobs since last fall. Huntsman Corp. and Ashland Inc. have also announced layoffs in recent months.
 
Company shares fell 85 cents yesterday to close at $27.91.
 
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer