Olin Chlor Alkali operates a production facility in Augusta, GA that is a major producer of chlorine products for use in special industry as well as in consumer items. The plant has been in operation since 1965 and is located on a 530 acre site, employing about 75 workers who make a number of chemical products that are used in paper, personal care items and even as ingredients in foods and swimming pool conditioners.
Sodium chloride, or table salt, can be separated into its individual elements through a variety of means, and the chemicals used in this process are themselves bonded with the separated sodium and chlorine. At the Olin Chlor Alkali Augusta facility, end products such as bleach, caustic soda, chlorine, hydrochloric acid and hydrogen gas are created.
Chlorine is used in plastics, pharmaceuticals, wastewater purification, paper pulp and pigments. It is also a major ingredient in crop protection chemicals. Sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda, is essential in the manufacturing of textiles, soaps and mineral processing. Hydrochloric acid is used in the making of oil and gasoline products, artificial sweeteners, and in the processing of certain food items. Bleach is used as a household cleaner as well as a water treatment compound and in the manufacturing of semiconductors. Hydrogen gas is instrumental in many chemical reactions for the making of metal products, glass and welding supplies. It is also cooled to a liquid and used in combination with rocket fuels.
Because it is a chemical production plant, the Olin Chlor Alkali Augusta facility works with and creates a number of hazardous substances; worker protection is of the highest priority. Mercury is an element that ends up as a waste material at this site, and recently the company announced a remodeling and automation plan at the Augusta plant. Consequently, it will cut a number of jobs however; it will eliminate the mercury cell technique of producing caustic soda.
Asbestos is another material that was once used at this type of chemical plant; the fibers of asbestos are excellent for insulating purposes where high temperatures are encountered. Today it is known that asbestos fibers can cause the aggressive cancer mesothelioma when inhaled, although symptoms often do not show for 20 to 50 years. Since the cancer is latent for so long, once it is detected it is usually so advanced that there is very little convention treatments one can do for a patient.