From the Hurricane Katrina department...

This came in from Jon Worstell, a member of the Chemical Processing editorial advisory board, who works at Shell Norco in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, responding to a question of how we, as automation media, should be telling this story: i think it is a good idea, especially from the viewpoint of explaining high gasoline prices. currently, in the usa, there is not a shortage of crude oil. however, there is a shortage of gasoline, and that shortage is going to become acute, shortly. i am telling people to top their gas tanks when they reach 3/4 full. several engineers and technicians at norco refinery (just north of new orleans) and at geismar (south of baton rouge, the plant site that i support) live in the northern suburbs of new orleans. their houses are most likely underwater. however, our engineers and technicians are the fortunate ones. shell says they will receive full pay thru 16 sept 05, with that date being extended, depending on severity and situation. also, shell is extending interest-free loans to all employees affected by katrina. employees of such companies represent 2 - 5% of the work force in the effected area. the other 95 - 98% work for small businesses or the service industries. those business are gone. thus, 95 - 98% of the people in the effected area are without jobs and financial resources. they truly have only the clothes on their backs. the whole gulf coast area is responding in an attempt to help these people. with regard to plants, restart will take time because there is no electrical power. we first have to drain new orleans and the plants, then clear any fallen trees and debris from the roads so that electrical line crews can restore power. also, how much of the work force can get to the plant site? how attentive will that work force be, knowing that they no longer have a home, car, etc? safety will be a massive concern during the restart of these plants. with regard to power: no power, no pipeline transmission; no port facilities; no rail shipment (shipments are all computer driven these days, and the internet is not working in the effected areas); and so on ...... this will begin shortly to radiate, wripple outward from the effected area and impact the national economy and maybe the global economy. i think it would be good to explain how such a natural disaster can impact the people working in the chemical industry, the industry, the regional economy, and the national economy. as always, the above represent the opinion of one cpi employee --- me; they do not necessarily represent the opinion of royal dutch shell or shell chemical company and should not be construed as doing so. regards, jon worstell If you have stories to share about colleagues in Louisiana and Mississippi, let me know. Walt