DuPont's DeLisle Plant Back In Business

One of the coast's largest employers is back in business.

Like many other companies, DuPont's DeLisle plant sustained major damage during Hurricane Katrina. Since the storm, DuPont employees have been working to repair what was damaged there and help rebuild the surrounding community.

"Today we're celebrating all of these people who have made it happen and worked so hard to make the grand reopening a reality," DuPont employee Lisa Wisniewski said.

DuPont rolled out the red carpet to celebrate being back in business producing titanium dioxide. It's a chemical used to add white coloring to almost any household item you can imagine.

Structurally the DuPont plant faired pretty well in the storm, though major repairs were needed on the electrical systems.

"Line two is running, running very solidly at this time. Line one is just right around the corner," Dan Sloan said to his fellow workers. "Ya'll should be very, very, very proud of what you've accomplished in a very short time."

Plant Manager Pat Nichols said, "It was just amazing to see the number of DuPonters coming to the site. Having lost everything that they had, coming to the site to say, 'What can I do to help the plant get back running?'"

What workers accomplished inside the plant is just one reason everyone here like celebrating.

DuPont Community Support worker Al Stumpf had a special gift for the Pass Christian School District - a check for $225,000.

"DuPont has been an incredible neighbor to the Pass Christian School District, pre and post Katrina," one school district leader said.

"We have continued to fund. We gave a million dollars - $500,000 of that went to the Red Cross and another $200,000 went to the Salvation Army."

Governor Haley Barbour praised DuPont workers for their dedication to the company and community.

"Today the restart of DuPont DeLisle is a threshold. But people have been working here for weeks and months to recommission to get this baby back so you can run it safe for the employees and the community, which is a commitment DuPont made and lived up to," Barbour said.

Plant leaders say none of the more than 1,500 DuPont and contract workers was laid off or had a salary disruption following Katrina.

by Al Showers