LyondellBasell Clinton Complex

Located in Clinton, Iowa the Clinton Complex is operated by Equistar, a subsidiary of LyondellBasell. It is a chemical plant that specializes in the manufacturing of plastics and polymers, and is spread out over a 240 acre site. Approximately 450 employees and private contractors call the Clinton Complex their workplace, where natural gas liquids are used to make polyethylene resins. LyondellBasell, the parent company, owns chemical plants worldwide and is headquartered in the Netherlands.

Polyethylene is one of the most commonly used plastics in industry; whether to make hard objects or for lightweight film such as plastic wrap, polyethylene is manufactured directly from ethylene. At the Clinton Complex, ethylene is transformed into a resin that can be used to make both high and low density polyethylene as well as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. This substance is also used in the production of ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze.

On site at the Clinton Complex is a research and development center that focuses on more efficient ways to produce resins and keep toxins from the outside environment.

Many of today’s chemical plants are older facilities that have been purchased by large corporations; the Clinton Complex grew from a smaller company that was both a manufacturer of plastics and other materials. Asbestos may have been used in many of these facilities because of the type of activities the company engaged in, namely the use of high heat and high voltage electricity. Asbestos was a primary insulating substance that wrapped steam pipes, used as firewalls around boilers and as a coating for wires.

Asbestos fibers can break off and become free-floating and workers can inhale them easily. After 20 to 50 years of remaining dormant in the lungs, these fibers can lead to a number of serious health problems. Mesothelioma and asbestosis diagnoses are on the rise, mostly involving people who have not worked around asbestos for decades. If the Clinton Complex once had asbestos in its buildings, all who worked around this material were at some risk of fiber inhalation.