Rohm and Haas
|This article or section may be slanted towards recent events. (June 2010)|
|Subsidiary of Dow Chemical|
|Founded||September 1, 1909|
|Parent||Dow Chemical Company|
Rohm and Haas Company is a manufacturer of speciality chemicals for end use markets such as building and construction, electronic devices, packaging, household and personal care products. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the company is organised into three business groups of Specialty Materials, Performance Materials and Electronic Materials, and also has two stand-alone businesses of Powder Coatings and Salt. Formerly a Fortune 500 Company, Rohm and Haas employs more than 17,000 people in 27 countries, with its last sales revenue reported as an independent company at USD 8.9 billion. Dow Chemical Company bought Rohm and Haas for $15 billion in 2009.
The company was founded in Esslingen, Germany, by Dr. Otto Röhm and Mr. Otto Haas in 1907. Haas moved to Philadelphia and began the American side of the business on September 1, 1909, from an office on Front Street, while Otto Röhm remained in Germany to run a company that would eventually become Röhm GmbH. The American company grew rapidly as World War I approached, because of their initial invention, a synthetic substitute (brand name Oropon) for fermented dog dung, which was used for bating leather (part of the old tanning process); leather was needed for the war in large quantities for belts and saddles.
The company again grew rapidly as World War II approached, as it manufactured Plexiglas acrylic, a transparent plastic which was needed for aircraft canopies. They sold this part of the business in 1998 to Elf Atochem (now Arkema).
In 1965 Rohm and Haas moved its headquarters from its Washington Square to a new building on Independence Mall a few blocks away. The new Rohm and Haas Corporate Headquarters was designed by Pietro Belluschi and George M. Ewing Co. (now EwingCole).
In 1999 Rohm and Haas acquired the Morton Salt company.
The main products of Rohm and Haas are specialty materials, advanced chemistry that allows end-use products to have a particular characteristic, e.g., low-odor, water-based paints, sunscreens with greater SPF functionality, or more powerful semiconductor chips.
On July 10, 2008 Rohm and Haas announced it was being bought by Dow Chemical Company for US$18.8 billion. Rohm and Haas will continue doing business under its name and will remain in its Philadelphia headquarters. Dow Chemical tried to back out of acquiring Rohm and Haas, when a deal to form a joint venture with Kuwait Petroleum that would give Dow money to buy Rohm and Haas failed. On 2 April 2009, it was reported that Morton Salt was being acquired by German fertilizer and salt company K+S for a total enterprise value of US$1.7bn. The sale, completed by October 2009, was in conjunction with the Dow Chemical Company's takeover of Rohm and Haas.
Dow announced their intent to sell the Rohm and Haas Powder Division.
On July 6, 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency charged Rohm and Haas of violating the Clean Air Act after inspecting a facility in Louisville, Kentucky. This facility was claimed to not have repaired a deteriorated chemical storage tank, maintained a complete list of monitoring regulations, or removed an accumulation of hazardous wastes.
On February 12, 2006, eleven workers were hospitalized after being exposed to fumes that leaked out of the Rohm and Haas Corporation chemical plant in Cincinnati, Ohio. On February 15, 2006, an employee died when working on a steam ejector due to the inhalation of hydrogen sulfide gas. An investigation determined that since the sewer vent was plugged, the hydrogen sulfide gas accumulated into large concentrations that became lethal.
On April 25, 2006, Rohm and Haas, along with other defendants, were filed with a civil action in Philadelphia for failing to prevent toxic spills, to employ adequate groundwater practices, and to warn residents of any potential presence of underground contamination. This led to 18 filed cases of brain tumors and cancers among local residents of Ringwood, Illinois.
As early as 1980, the company's McCullom Lake factory located in McHenry County, Illinois, underwent investigation for contamination of the town's groundwater. Studies, paid for by Rohm and Haas, showed the groundwater never affected the town's well water. The company is now one of five corporations undergoing a class-action lawsuit filed by the town's residents, claiming a direct correlation to 31 out of 1,074 residents experiencing some type of brain or pituitary gland cancer. The Northwest Herald published a six-piece investigative story on the lawsuits and residents, claiming to reveal a blatant "mishandling" of the entire affair on the part of local health officials and Rohm and Haas.
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