France-based materials maker Saint-Gobain plans to close a composite solutions manufacturing plant in Merrimack, New Hampshire, the company said in an Aug. 23 worker adjustment and retraining notification letter.
Subsidiary Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics’ closure will affect approximately 164 employees and the first round of layoffs will begin Oct. 31, according to the WARN letter. Employees wanting to stay with the company will be offered alternative roles and relocation assistance, while those who do not stay will receive severance packages, the spokesperson said.
The closure is part of the company’s plans to restructure its composite solutions business in the U.S., a Saint-Gobain spokesperson told Manufacturing Dive in an email.
“This decision comes after careful consideration and strategic evaluation of what is best for achieving Saint-Gobain’s core business goals and is in line with the company’s mission and plan,” the Saint-Gobain spokesperson said.
The factory's final closure date depends on the plant’s fulfillment of contractual obligations, with the wind down expected to last into 2024, according to the spokesperson.
The company has no plans to move operations from its Merrimack plant to another location, the spokesperson said. Instead, the business will cease its composite solutions production in North America.
The facility's upcoming closure follows years of investigation into the use of forever chemicals at the site and the alleged contamination of the surrounding air and water. The investigation of the area continues to this day.
A week before the closure announcement, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services issued Saint-Gobain a state permit authorizing the polymer maker to operate PFAS-coated fabrics and films manufacturing processes until Aug. 31, 2028. The Merrimack facility currently produces the company’s Sheerfill building materials, Sheerguard antennae enclosures, ONEsuit protective gear and Versiv fabrics brand products.
The company has been accused of contaminating the Merrimack area’s air and water supply with PFAS. Saint-Gobain purchased the facility from Chemfab in 2002 and took over the fabrics and films operations that used PFAS, according to state records.
In 2021, Saint-Gobain entered into an agreement with the state to install and operate an air pollution control system to manage PFAS emissions at the plant. Last year, the state environmental agency requested the company establish a groundwater management zone and long-term groundwater monitoring plan at the Merrimack site and surrounding residential properties to mitigate the impact of the facility’s pollutants.
The company also agreed to install water treatment systems and provide alternative water sources to over 1,100 residences impacted in the area.
“Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics will continue to work closely with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services on the ongoing environmental investigation and remediation effort, including providing bottled water and permanent alternate water, as appropriate, within the Consent Decree area,” the spokesperson said.