Virus idles Eastman plant in Wuhan, China

Hank Hayes • Feb 16, 2020 at 2:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport-based Eastman has a facility at the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

Eastman’s Wuhan Youji Chemical Co., Ltd. produces Benzoflex benzoate ester plasticizers, benzoic acid, and sodium benzoate for adhesives, sealants, flooring, coatings and inks.

When asked what’s going on at the plant, Eastman spokeswoman Kristin Parker pointed out all of the company’s manufacturing plants and facilities in Asia Pacific outside of China have remained fully operational.

“Eastman does have manufacturing sites in locations in China that have been under extended holiday or restricted work return dates,” she said in an email. “Those sites have restarted or are in the process of planning restarts in the coming days, with the exception of our Wuhan plant. We are working to determine the restart date of that location. Eastman has manufacturing sites around the globe, and we have been working to supply our customers from our operations that continued production.

“We continue to closely monitor developments with respect to the Covid-19 (coronavirus). First and most importantly, we have implemented the appropriate actions to continue providing our employees a safe and healthy working environment in China. This includes working from home and allowing only a limited amount of critical staff in offices and manufacturing locations in China to prevent the spread of illness. Travel restrictions have also been implemented within the company to help reduce the spread of the virus.”

Production in Wuhan was slowed by the Chinese New Year holiday but was shut down following the coronavirus outbreak, Parker added.