-- Dow Chemical is considering a $40 million to $50 million upgrade
to its plant here, a move that could herald a tripling of its
capacity to produce a pesticide used against termites and pests
that attack strawberries.
The proposed renovation and expansion of Dow's sulfuryl
flouride plant could also mean the end of a long downward trend
in employment at the plant.
spokesman Scott Anderson said California Dow officials are seeking
Pittsburg Planning Commission approval of the 4,000-square-foot
combination renovation and expansion project in hopes of proving
to Dow directors that the company "can still do business in California."
decision hasn't been made yet whether the project will be built
in Pittsburg or not," Anderson said.
he said the company needs to replace aging equipment the company
has used to produce sulfuryl flouride in Pittsburg since 1974,
and is examining a potential new market for the product in agriculture.
said the federal Environmental Protection Agency is phasing out
in coming years the use of methyl bromide, a pesticide used in
strawberry farming, and sulfuryl flouride is the best replacement.
flouride has previously been used mainly to fumigate buildings
by professional exterminators, who cover entire buildings in bag-like
envelopes and pump in the chemical in gas form.
said it is early to talk about increased employment resulting
from the expansion, but said Pittsburg would gain perhaps 20 to
25 new jobs if the facility is built.
the last 11 years, Anderson said, employment at the Pittsburg
Dow facility has fallen from about 900 to approximately 350. The
new plant, he said, represents a rare opportunity for growth amid
a very competitive environment in the chemical industry.
Nail, Pittsburg's economic and redevelopment coordinator, said
the city welcomes the project.
are very excited about a possible expansion of Dow because it
will bring in a lot of jobs and it will kind of reverse a trend
that's been going on for the last 10 years," Nail said.
said any jobs created at the plant would likely pay well. The
region has plenty of service jobs that offer lower pay, he said,
but jobs that allow workers to support a family are harder to
said some new permits are required for the expanded plant, but
not too many since the chemical is already produced at the site.
Newer, more efficient equipment will likely mean a reduction in
emissions from the plant, according to Anderson.
Pittsburg Planning Commission is to review Jan. 8 a request for
a height variance for the project. City codes limit industrial
facilities to 95 feet in height, while the Dow project would rise
about 125 feet.
planning commission meets at 7:30 p.m. at Pittsburg City Hall
at 65 Civic Ave.
Glenn May covers Pittsburg and Bay Point. Reach him at 925-779-7170