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Thanks to a coordinated effort by a team of DuPont employees in the Nafion® business, survivors of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami who live in the region of Talcahuano, Chile, have begun rebuilding and will have improved access to safe drinking water.
The back-to-back disasters that struck Chile left about 80% of Talcahuano residents homeless. Making matters worse, Occidental Chemical, a DuPont Nafion® customer, was not able to produce chlorine that is used in the region for drinking water treatment disinfection to prevent life-threatening, waterborne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
That’s where the DuPont Nafion® team stepped in to help.
“We’re a key supplier of Nafion® chloralkali membranes to all of Occidental’s North and South America chloralkali production facilities,” said Jeff Jones, Nafion® North America territory manager. “They use it in a membrane chloralkali electrolysis process, which is the most modern and energy-efficient process for producing chloralkali chemicals like chlorine.” The big problem for Occidental was that 20 of the company’s 32 electrolyzers were damaged, either directly by the earthquake, or indirectly due to the unexpected utilities interruptions.
To mitigate the situation as quickly as possible, Occidental asked DuPont to ship Nafion® membranes to their Talcahuano location nearly two weeks sooner than originally scheduled. “Our April 22 earliest ship date was improved to April 8 by a responsive Nafion® manufacturing team,” Jeff said. This was particularly challenging because the Nafion® unit was in the middle of a heavy production period due to an upswing in demand.
“Volume had been building each month, and we were setting production records,” Jeff said. “Nonetheless, Nafion® manufacturing was able to take a very full schedule and push it forward two weeks to help meet this critical customer need. In addition, our territory manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Stefano Nitini, was able to coordinate a one-week extension on a project membrane shipment to one of our technology sellers who work directly in the fabrication and start up of new chloralkali facilities.”
Everything had to be extremely well coordinated between DuPont and Occidental, according to Jeff. Not only did DuPont employees from several regions of the world have to work together to speed up the production and shipping processes, Occidental had to make arrangements to ensure the shipments could get to the devastated area.
In addition to Jeff and Stefano, the DuPont team that expedited the shipping schedule included Mario Celeda, Nafion® Latin America account representative; Bob Dietz, master scheduler; Carol Jackson, finishing group leader; Greg Pittman, manufacturing technician; Lisa Owens and Brian Stephens, Nafion® facilitators who are located at the Fayetteville Works site where Nafion® is produced; and the whole Nafion® organization.
“Not only is it very gratifying to be able to support a key customer help the people of Talcahuano, we also were able to achieve a financial boost for DuPont with additional, un-forecasted revenue,” Jeff said.