Rubber plant closer to reality

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; After three years of planning, the first major industry to the Vidalia area since Fruit of the Loom is almost a reality.

LIEL, a research company, has plans to locate their recycling plant on a 25-acre plot in the Vidalia Industrial Park. A 50,000 square-foot plant is to be constructed, hiring 60 employees and paying an average salary of $25,000 to $30,000, Ferriday Economic Development Director Teresa Dennis said. Room for more employees will be available once the plant goes into full production.

&8220;All has been approved with the rubber plant,&8221; Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said. &8220;Now we are waiting on the DEQ to approve the permit and then we will begin construction.&8221;

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LIEL is planning to build the new plant and operates a patented process for recycling used tires. Approximately 80 percent of the used tires are recycled into usable rubber. The prior recycling process only salvages around 10 percent of new rubber from the used tires, Dennis said.

&8220;The plant puts off no emissions whatsoever and will keep the tires out of the landfills,&8221; Dennis said. &8220;This plant will be an environmentally positive addition.&8221;

The process shreds used tires, removing all non-rubber components of the tires, and separates the two. The new rubber, either in pellet form or sheet form, is the result, Dennis said. This process decreases the production price, because of the lower transportation and process price.

&8220;I believe the addition of this plant will start a unique cluster in the industrial park,&8221; Dennis said of the ongoing three-year project.

LIEL, formerly TXEL, had plans to open plants in Texas and Louisiana, but the company abandoned its plans for the company in Texas.

Rubber from the plant will be used to make a variety of rubber products including bumpers, truck bed liners and shoes.