To help meet demand for medical sanitation products, ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Chemical Plant is producing and providing isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to areas hit hardest by the pandemic, including Louisiana, New York and other parts of the world.
The company’s Baton Rouge plant is notably home to the world’s largest IPA production unit, pumping out millions of gallons of the chemical each year and serving as a major global supplier of the product, which is a key ingredient used in sanitizing products.
“We want to make sure this IPA is going to the right places to help combat the virus,” says Greg Bass, Americas Fluids product manager for ExxonMobil Chemical Company.
As part of its new initiative, ExxonMobil will produce thousands of gallons of IPA and deliver it to the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel. There, prisoners will blend and package the product to make thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer, which will go to GOHSEP for statewide distribution to hospitals and other facilities in need.
While ExxonMobil doesn’t generally disclose its customers’ identities, Bass says the company has also gotten partnership requests from other government agencies and the U.S. military.
The program comes about after the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, upon noticing shortages of medical supplies throughout the state, approached Robert Berg, state regulatory advisor for the southeastern region of ExxonMobil Corporation,about Louisiana adopting a model similar to one in New York, where the state’s prisoners make hand sanitizer using the IPA produced in Baton Rouge.
“We agreed that it’s a good public-private partnership to work with state agencies to figure out how to get this product that’s made in our community, back to our community,” Berg says. “We’ve provided the correctional facility with exactly what they’ve requested in order to meet their needs.”
At the correctional center, which saw the first truckloads of material arrive in 55-gallon drums Wednesday afternoon, prisoners will package 3,000 gallons of the chemical into 8-oz bottles, with LSU overseeing the mixing process.
The first round of product will ultimately fill more than 60,000 bottles, but ExxonMobil has been working with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to resource more bottles and has secured an additional bottle supplier—Pipeline Packaging in Geismar—to increase capacity.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated since its original publication to reflect that ExxonMobil did not launch the New York initiative and is only donating IPA in Louisiana.