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Brazil's Braskem says Maceio tremors not related to nearby plants

Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem has found no relation between recent "seismic disturbances" in the state of Alagoas and its nearby brine extraction processes involved in its polyvinyl chloride business, the company said Monday.

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"The company carried out a survey in its facilities and did not find any occurrence or abnormality in its operations," Braskem said in a statement. "Braskem's facilities and its brine production are located in an area restricted to the banks of the Mundau Lagoon and of low residential density. This operation is systematically monitored and supervised. The extraction of salt is a technique used worldwide, with a proven safety."

Braskem's statement comes after regional reports cited several social media posts connecting the tremors to Braskem's longtime operations in the area, namely rock-salt extraction in the form of brine.

Brine treatment is involved in the production of chlorine and caustic soda, collectively known as chlor-alkali. Chlorine is then combined with ethylene to form ethyl dichloride, a precursor to polyvinyl chloride, a key petrochemical vital to various industries, namely the construction sector.

Braskem operates a pair of plants under its PVC division in Maceio, including a chlor-alkali complex that has been shut down since a January 15 fire knocked offline its power supply. Braskem plans to restart the impacted chlor-alkali complex sometime in the first half of March, the company previously said.

--Phillipe Craig, phillipe.craig@spglobal.com