Chemical company may lay off 100 in Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun

An international chemical company with operations in the Baltimore area plans to indefinitely halt production and lay off as many as 100 employees from its Hawkins Point plant because of decreased demand, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, a division of Cristal Global, will stop producing titanium dioxide at the plant near Key Bridge at the end of March, spokeswoman Amy Drusano said.

"Some of our biggest customers are paint makers, and they rely heavily on the automotive and home sales markets," she said. "As those sales decline, there is decreased demand for paint and then titanium dioxide."

The company, which has its corporate headquarters in Saudi Arabia and operational headquarters in Hunt Valley, employs about 300 people in the region. The Hawkins Point plant, on 318 acres and in operation under different owners since 1956, uses chlorine to produce titanium dioxide, a white pigment used in plastics, synthetic fabrics, sunscreens and soaps.

It will take workers two to three months to transition the plant, at which point an undetermined portion of the plant's 100 hourly workers will be laid off, Drusano said. The company hopes to resume production when demand increases. There are no plans for layoffs in Hunt Valley or a research facility in Glen Burnie, she said.

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