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Repairs Underway At Westlake's Geismar, LA Vinyls Facility

HOUSTON, March 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --  Westlake Chemical Corporation (NYSE:WLK) confirmed today that the fire which occurred at its Geismar, Louisiana, vinyls complex the morning of March 22, 2012, was extinguished and fully contained within several hours and resulted in no injuries or health risk to nearby residents and businesses.  The fire and associated damage was confined to a portion of the site that produces vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), an intermediate product used in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) at the site. PVC is a common material used for a variety of building products such as pipe, siding, windows and fence.  An investigation into the cause of the incident is being conducted, and the company is cooperating and working closely with governmental authorities, including the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, and OSHA.  Additionally, the company will be engaging a third-party to conduct an independent review of the incident.

Repairs to the damaged equipment are in progress.  It is currently estimated that the total vinyls complex will be returned to normal operations by mid-May and sections of the site's operations, including the PVC plant, may be operable earlier. It is estimated that the lost production, repair costs and other expenditures resulting from this incident will be approximately $5 million to $7 million.

The company has notified its PVC resin customers and suppliers of a force majeure event as a result of the incident at Geismar and is working directly with each of them to mitigate the impact as soon as possible. 

"We want to express our gratitude to the fire and police departments and other members of the emergency response team," said Albert Chao, President and CEO of Westlake. "We are thankful that no injuries occurred and that the incident was quickly contained and safely resolved.  Our team is dedicated to returning the site to full operations to serve our customers as soon as it can be safely restarted."

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