Kevlar plant in Berkeley County closing after six years of operation

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Kevlar plant in Berkeley County is shutting its doors after six years of operation.

Dan Turner, a spokesman for DuPont, the company which owns the plant, said Kevlar manufacturing at the Cooper River site is transitioning to the company's Spruance site in Richmond, Virginia, where a majority of the work is done.

"The challenge is that we are at a point where capacity has exceeded demand for some time, and consolidation to redeploy resources as quickly as possible has led to making this difficult decision," Tuner said.

"DuPont made a difficult decision to close its Berkeley County plant and that move will have an impact on our community and particularly the workers who now face an uncertain future," said Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler in a statement released Thursday.

In 2007 DuPont announced a $500 million dollar investments in Berkeley County producing life-saving Kevlar vests.

"Berkeley County leaders pride ourselves on recruiting solid industries, creating jobs and building a strong community," Peagler said. "While the closure of this plant is disappointing, Berkeley County is committed to expanding opportunities for citizens and helping those affected. As the unemployment rate in the County is the lowest it's been in 15 years, we're optimistic that the employees impacted by this plant closure will soon find job opportunities in the County."

According to the DuPont website, the facility was the centerpiece of a "multi-phase, multi-year Kevlar production expansion that initially increased global Kevlar production capacity by more than 25 percent."

Kevlar is best known for its performance in ballistic and stable-resistant body armor used by law enforcement and military personnel.

A statement from the company reads in part:

"This change will make it possible to invest in the future growth and innovation of the Kevlar business.  Kevlar employees at Cooper River will be eligible for positions at other DuPont facilities, including our site in Richmond, VA, and the company will work with them to secure roles both inside and outside of DuPont.  DuPont will maintain its presence on the Cooper River Site with our Hytrel manufacturing unit and will continue to contribute to the local community."

Turner said 113 employees will be impacted at the Kevlar site. DuPont employees at other locations in Berkeley County will not be affected.

Peagler said County leaders are working to find job opportunities for all employees impacted by the DuPont Kevlar closure. The County is also working with the South Carolina Department of Commerce and Berkeley County corporate family to find job connections for those employees.

Company officials plan to stop manufacturing at the plant in June, with equipment dismantling complete by the end of July.

Equipment from the Cooper River facility will be relocated to other sites including the Spruance site in Richmond and a site in Northern Ireland.

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