Arkema Memphis Plant

Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the Arkema Memphis plant contributes to Arkema’s position as the world’s third largest producer of hydrogen peroxide. This is due in part to a steady increase in the worldwide consumption of hydrogen peroxide. The plant itself is situated on 12 acres of land, surrounded by a 400-acre industrial complex in Shelby County, Tennessee. Built in 1953, the Arkema Memphis Plant was originally owned by E.I. duPont de Nemours. In September of 1998, the plant was purchased by Arkema Inc. (formerly Atofina Chemicals, Inc.). It is the world’s first commercial plant to use anthraquinone hydrogenation and oxidation to manufacture hydrogen peroxide. In the past fifty years, the plant’s output capacity has risen tenfold, from 14 million pounds per year to 146 million pounds per year, contributing to the company’s previously mentioned production status.

Hydrogen peroxide is commonly known for its use as an antiseptic; however, it maintains additional uses.  Hydrogen peroxide can also be used as a bleaching agent in clothing, aid in paper production; replace chlorine solutions as a water decontaminate, or assist in teeth whitening

While a member of the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care program, the Arkema Memphis plant’s age indicates that it likely used several materials that have since been regulated against, including asbestos.  Asbestos was originally used in the insulation of machinery and plumbing in factories such as this one.  Exposure to asbestos has certain health risks associated with it, including, but not limited to, mesothelioma.  Mesothelioma usually exhibits a long latency period, and is especially common in plant workers who underwent prolonged asbestos exposure.  Its long latency period means that former employees might just now be exhibiting first symptoms of mesothelioma today.