FOLLANSBEE, W.Va. — Follansbee City Manager John DeStefano says while the recent decision by Koppers to close its plant in town doesn’t come as a surprise, officials are still looking at the positives.
48 workers at the plant were notified they would be out of a job by August 4 as the company looks to its strategy to reduce carbon chemicals operations.
DeStefano told WV MetroNews the property has a lot going for it for the future, with both a barge and rail facility, and said it could play a role in natural gas development in the region.
“The barge facility at that location is smack in the middle of the cracker plant they are talking about building in Monaca and the one they are talking about building in Belmont County. Strategically located in a really good spot,” he said.
DeStefano said the city knew something of this nature was in the works but just did not know when as he said the company is moving operations around the country.
Koppers, which is a producer of carbon compounds and treated wood products for the aluminum, steel, chemical, rubber, railroad and utility industries, had its 33-acre Follansbee site located right on the Ohio River in town..
The company’s website says the Follansbee plant, located around 40 miles from Pittsburgh, is capable of converting crude coke oven tars into chemical oil, naphthalene, middle distillate oils, refined tars, and various grades of coal tar pitch.
DeStefano said while he hasn’t heard for sure, he has his fingers crossed that Koppers will be able to sell the property.
“My hopes are they have been in discussion with other companies that may want to come in and do something on their property,” he added. “There’s nothing out there, there’s nobody telling us that that is going to happen.”
The city will lose out on the company’s large water usage, its business and occupation tax, lost income and associated revenue of workers, and DeStefano expects the property taxes will fall.