POSTED: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 5:30pm
UPDATED: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 5:34pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Louisiana is home to all kinds of chemical plants and oil refineries, but do we really know what happens there or what products are actually made?
Those huge pipes hundreds of feet above ground, the large plumes of smoke billowing from the sky and the massive containers that line Scenic Hwy are all key elements to ExxonMobil.
"There is a lot to this, but once you get it and sort it out it makes for an interesting day," said Exxon Console Operator, Rob Westfall.
Westfall directs the chemicals to a specific place and also controls how much is released at one time.
"You have to look at it like you're operating a vehicle," stated Console Operator, Al Bellanger.
Bellanger and Westfall work behind the scenes, overseeing operations in the one building where everything in the plant originates.
"Basically, this is the hub of the chemical plant," noted Westfall.
The ExxonMobil Chemical Plant works directly with the company's refinery to make sure they use every molecule they can and, of course, recycle.
"That's really great for our business, but it's great for the environment as well," said SACC Furnaces Contact, Joy Aldridge. "Our largest products are ethylene or propylene,” noted Aldridge. “Those are the precursors to your everyday plastics."
They also produce rubber, which is used for tires and soccer balls, among other things.
What the factory really prides themselves on is for their production of Isopropryl Alcohol; Exxon invented it in 1920 and is now the largest manufacturer in the world.
"Anywhere you find IPA rubbing alcohol, anywhere globally, it probably came from here in Baton Rouge," said Oxy Fluids Coordinator, Amanda Root.
Now, the next time you pass one of the plants located here in southern Louisiana, you'll know why and how they are not only important to us, but the country as a whole.
ExxonMobil employs more than 5,500 people and reinvests nearly $300 million into our local economy. It’s also the largest manufacturing employer in the state.