Dow Chemical Deer Park Plant

The Rohm and Haas Company manufacture and produce two kinds of acrylic monomers: acrylate esters and acrylic acid. Both of which are essential to the manufacturing of latex coatings and paints, biodegradable detergents, methacrylate monomers, superabsorbent diapers, and adhesives.

A thesis written by Doctor Rohm in 1901 addressed the polymerization of acrylic acid. Rohm found new avenues in 1920 to produce both methacrylate and acrylate starting materials. Shortly after that, Plexiglas acrylic was invented followed by other inventions such as: Rhoplex textile finishes, Primal leather finishes, and Acryloid acrylic oil additives.

In the following years, the search began to focus on finding more efficient avenues through which methacrylate monomers and acrylates could be made. Otto Haas knew that the cost of acrylic products limited expansion into the paint and coatings market. Corporate scientists eventually discovered a less expensive production process which began with ammonia and natural gas. This method was tested successfully at a Bristol, Pennsylvania facility.

In August of 1946, Haas and Rohm purchased 534 acres of land in Deer Park, Texas. Various pipeline companies serviced the location with natural gas, while nearby petrochemical facilities provided additional starting materials.

Mr. Haas initially intended to complete plant construction over the course of several years in order to finance the project from retained earnings. However, DuPont informed them that after December of 1947, they could no longer provide Rohm and Haas with sodium cyanide. Because sodium cyanide is a key material in production, it became necessary to build a cyanide plant in Houston.  This was the largest singular construction project undertaken by the company, coupled with a 15 month timeframe.

Currently, the Deer Park facility is the largest manufacturer of acrylic and methacrylic monomers worldwide.  Despite all of this, the Dow Chemical Plant in Deer Park, TX remains a potential asbestos location.  Because of its age the plant likely used several materials that are now regulated against, including asbestos.  Asbestos poses a dangerous health risk to those who come into contact with it.  Many power plants lined their equipment, machinery, and plumbing with asbestos.  The material’s frequent use throughout such plants is, in part, responsible for the high rate of cancers found in former employees, namely, mesothelioma.  The development of mesothelioma continues today among previous power plant workers, and the Deer Park plant remains on a list of power plants that potentially exposed former employees to dangerous levels of asbestos.