If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Climate Change

Drought in Mexico shuts chemical plants

Companies are conserving water for community use

by Alexander H. Tullo
June 5, 2024

Cracked soil in a lake bed in Mexico.
Credit: Associated Press
Cracked earth surrounds Janitzio Island in Mexico's partially dried-up Lake Patzcuaro.

Mexico’s worst drought in more than a decade is beginning to waylay chemical production as authorities divert water from industrial consumers to local communities.

Heeding a government request to reduce water intake, Chemours paused titanium dioxide production in Altamira, in the state of Tamaulipas on Mexico’s east coast. In a statement, the company says it cannot predict the duration of the shutdown but says it is “working closely with government, business, and community partners to identify and implement short- and long-term solutions.”

Ineos Styrolution, which operates one of North America’s largest polystyrene and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) sites in Altamira, says it declared force majeure after authorities reduced water supply to the facility.

Styrolution says some of its production lines are operating but at lower rates than usual. The firm is also serving local markets through imports from its overseas facilities.

Sabic makes ABS, polycarbonate, and other plastics in nearby Tampico. “The local commission on drinking water and sewage issued a letter communicating it is no longer able to pump water to the local water system, which directly impacts industries in the Altamira region,” Sabic says in a statement. As a result, the company is proceeding with a temporary shutdown of the Tampico site.

Orbia shut down a massive polyvinyl chloride complex in Altamira on May 21.

And Cabot declared force majeure at its Altamira carbon black plant. “Over the past weeks, the water supply to our Altamira plant has deteriorated in both quantity and quality,” the company says in a statement. “Consequently, our plant is currently unable to operate all production units and is running limited production, along with warehouse, packing, and shipping operations.”



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.