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DuPont plant finishes new protection wall

DuPont Co. has completed a project to add 12 feet to the height of levees around its titanium dioxide plant on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The company announced Thursday, in a press release, that the wall originally was to be built 10 feet on top of the 20-foot earthen levees surrounding the plant. The job came in ahead of schedule at $12.5 million, below the $15 million to $20 million first estimated.

Pat Nichols, plant manager, said the decision was made to go up 12 feet after seeing what Hurricane Katrina had done.

“We decided to add more protection and increase the level of safety by adding 12 feet, rather than 10, to the existing levee that works in tandem with our other pre-existing berms.

“Katrina taught us that no amount of preparation is a guarantee, but we think this project goes a long way toward protecting our employees, customers and investors from the effects of future storms,” Nichols said in the statement.

The original levees were built in 1974 based on Hurricane Camille’s then-record storm surge in 1969.

On Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina’s surge overtopped the levees, dumping at least six feet of water into the DeLisle plant. The company said a secondary system of engineered berms helped to collect the water, protecting the facility and preventing release of hazardous materials.

DuPont restarted its DeLisle operations in January. DuPont’s aniline-producing facility in Pascagoula went back on line in November.