MIDLAND, Mich. - Dow Chemical's UCAR Emulsions Systems business unit announced plans to build a major new latex emulsions production plant, which the company said would be the largest in North America. The plant, to be located at Dow's Union Carbide Corp. site in St. Charles, La., will produce a range of emulsions in the company's portfolio of vinyl-blend technologies, which includes acrylics, styrene acrylics and vinyl acrylics, said Michael C. Kaufman of the UCAR Emulsion Systems business. Specifics on the plant's capacity were not disclosed.

The plant, expected to go into operation in 2006, will be part of a "back-integrated" production complex that includes facilities that make key upstream materials, including monomers and surfactants. The announcement continues a series of actions designed to modernize and upgrade the company's emulsions production capabilities, and follows the recent shutdowns of plants in Puerto Rico and New Jersey.

Also, as part of a $100-million upgrade program for the UCAR Emulsion Systems business, Dow Chemical said it will invest in facilities in Alsip, Ill., and Sarnia, Ontario, and will close plants in Tucker, Ga., and Garland, Texas, in 2006, with production from those sites to be transferred to the new St. Charles facility.