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Dow to build Styrofoam insulation plant in Burley

Dow Building Solutions, a business unit within Dow Chemical Co., intends to start construction in August on a 60,000-square-foot styrofoam manufacturing plant in Burley.

The Burley plant will produce extruded polystyrene insulation, or XPS, a building insulation that meets higher standards set by European and Asian countries and Canada. The insulation will include Dow’s new Bluedge polymeric flame retardant technology, said Tim Lacey, global business director at Dow Building Solutions.

Tim Lacey

Tim Lacey

The Burley facility on 30 acres will have about 21 employees and is expected to be ready for operation in early 2018. Estimated cost of construction is more than $15 million, Lacey said.

The city of Burley teamed up with the state of Idaho, the Burley Development Authority and the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization to land the Styrofoam plant. Lacey said Dow considered Nevada, Wyoming, Utah and other Idaho locations.

“You get to learn that you need a community that works with you,” Lacey said. “I can’t speak enough about the friendliness of Burley.”

Burley takes companies swiftly through the permitting process and the city building departments does its own electrical and plumbing inspections and has no impact fees, said Doug Manning, Burley’s economic development director.

“What we try to do is knock down any barriers that exist,” Manning said. “There are other communities that make more lists of what (companies) have to do.”

The Burley plant will serve the western U.S. and Canadian markets. Dow’s Bluedge flame retardant replaces hexabromocyclododecane, or HBCD, which is being phased out in Europe, Asia and Canada. The U.S. has not announced regulations against HBCD, Lacey said.

Burley is the first Dow Building Solution plant in the U.S. created from the ground up to produce the extruded polystyrene insulation that meets these HBCD-free standards. Four of five other domestic plants will be converted to produce the new product, while Dow Building’s Asian and European plants have already been converted, Lacey said.

Lacey stressed this is blue Styrofoam used as construction insulation, not the white foam used for coffee cups and fast food containers.

The Idaho Conservation League has not reviewed the Dow project yet but will get involved as the air and water quality permitting process proceeds.

“No red flags,” said Justin Hayes, program director at the Idaho Conservation League.

Idaho Department of Environment Quality has met twice with the air quality staff to discuss potential particulate matters released in the air and toxic concerns, said Kelli Wetzel, an air quality permitting analyst.

“What they have shown us, they are below regulatory concern,” Wetzel said.

Burley’s mayor, another council member, economic development director and city administrator visited Dow Building’s similar plant in Dalton, Ga.

“We have a smell, sound and sight test,” Manning said. “They passed with flying colors. It’s a clean operation.”

Note: This story was updated at 5 p.m. on July 11.

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.