Mississippi Phosphates to move all operations to Pascagoula

SUN HERALDJuly 11, 2014 

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD According to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, emissions from Mississippi Phosphates Corporation's Pascagoula plant can consist of sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid and steam. Neither the agency nor the company would identify these emissions photographed on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

JOHN FITZHUGH — SUN HERALD Buy Photo

PASCAGOULA -- Mississippi Phosphates Corp. announced Friday it plans to consolidate operations to the company's Pascagoula plant, closing its corporate headquarters in Madison.

"In light of pending retirements and other staffing changes, it makes sense to move these responsibilities to the plant," said Jim Sherbert, chief executive officer.

It will allow the company to increase efficiency and eliminate costs associated with maintaining a remote headquarters, he said.

"We are pleased, as this brings decision-making to the local level, improving our ability to be nimble and address needs within the plant," said Ajay Kumar, senior vice president and general manager of operations. "This is another step forward as we continue to make progress in advancing vital production, environmental and safety initiatives."

The company has been under state Department of Environmental Quality restraints since the state agency forced it to shut down two of its Pascagoula units for a period of time last year, and it has been slow in paying county taxes.

Kumar, who joined Mississippi Phosphates in May, leads a change-management team that includes Pascagoula native Wes Smith as production manager and Robert Kerley as chief financial officer.

This team is responsible for improving operations, handling environmental enhancements and implementing corrective-action plans.

Sherbert said the change is timely, given the retirements of longtime executives Ed McCraw and Jim Perkins.

"We appreciate the decades of committed service by Ed and Jim, who have worked diligently to support and to keep this complex enterprise operating during difficult times," Sherbert said in a written statement. "With their departure, this is the right time and right business decision as we work to address issues and improve operations."

Fewer than 10 staffers will be affected by the closure of the Madison location.

Mississippi Phosphates is a Delaware corporation that produces diammonium phosphate, DAP, the most common form of phosphate fertilizer used on major row crops.

The plant has been in Pascagoula since 1958 and consists of two sulfuric acid units, a phosphoric acid unit and a DAP granulation unit that can produce 850,000 tons a year. The sulfuric acid units have the capacity to produce sulfuric acid sufficient for annual DAP production of about 600,000 to 640,000 tons.

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