The Chemical Notebook Visits Eastman
May17

The Chemical Notebook Visits Eastman

From Pittsburgh Chemical Day, I headed down to visit Eastman Chemical in Kingsport, Tenn., last week. There the company has opened a 30,000 metric-ton-per-year Tritan polyester copolymer plant. The product is a bisphenol-A-free alternative to polycarbonate for house wares and baby bottles. I toured Eastman’s Kingsport chemical complex, which was founded in 1920 by George Eastman to make wood alcohol. I have seen many chemical plants, but I’m not so sure that I have witnessed something of such a scale that wasn’t attached to an oil refinery. Here are some facts I jotted down on my notebook while on a bus tour of the site: The site is situated on 858 acres. 7,000 people out of Eastman’s 10,000 worldwide workforce are employed in Kingsport. The site has 28 miles of paved roads and 37 miles of railroads. Some 500 rail switches are conducted at the site each week. The plant has 4 dedicated locomotives. The site generates 160 megawatts of power. The plant’s gasification unit, which makes acetyl products like cigarette filter tow, takes in 56 railcars of coal per day. 450 million gallons of water are drawn from the Holston River every day to cool the site’s reactors. The plant has two Subway restaurants, an Arby’s, a Honey Baked Ham, and other cafeterias. The site has a gymnasium that offers classes to workers such as aerobics and kickboxing. Eastman’s headquarters is just outside the fence line. The company also runs a 1,700-seat auditorium next door, which holds local Kingsport cultural events and first run movies. Now playing: The Spy Next Door. The only other chemical industry company town that I have seen that compares with Kingsport, is Midland, Michigan, where Dow is headquartered. Without Eastman, I’m not sure that Kingsport would have a nice hotel and regional airport. In fact, there probably wouldn’t be much of an economy there at...

Read More