Company to invest $360M in Calhoun County

Novus International Inc. is reassessing its plans to build a $360 million plant in Calhoun County.

“The overall cost of building new facilities is increasing. It’s really due to the expansion of all the different industries within the region,” W. Scott Hine said Monday.

Hine serves as the vice president of products and solutions and chief innovation officer at Novus.

Novus announced in November 2017 it would build the plant.

It said the plant would make methionine, a feed supplement used in the agriculture industry, and be on Ineos Nitriles’ property along SH 185 south of Bloomington.

The company said it would employ up to 600 people during peak construction of the plant and 65 people permanently. It said Ineos would operate the plant.

Hine said Novus is still committed to expanding its production of methionine but is trying to figure out the best way to do that.

He did not answer questions related to how exactly the costs have risen, whether Novus is considering locating the plant elsewhere and the status of its construction, which was supposed to start this year, or its environmental permits.

“We’re working with our owners to assess the scope of expansion and what our plans will be, and we hope to get back to the community and our stakeholders toward the end of the month or over the next couple of months. It’s quite a complicated discussion,” Hine said.

Records show the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality made the preliminary decision in January to issue Novus an air permit for the plant. The TCEQ is still deciding whether to issue the company another permit for two hazardous waste injection wells on Ineos’ property.

Dale Fowler, the president of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation, was relieved Monday when he learned Novus was only reassessing.

“That’s better than not doing it at all,” he said, “and I would expect that any long-term industrial project would go through a series of re-evaluations as the market conditions change.”

Fowler said the new jobs Novus would create would be significant for the region.

“These are the type of jobs that spin off ancillary jobs,” he said.

Calhoun County Judge Richard Meyer could not be reached for comment Monday, but Port Lavaca Mayor Jack Whitlow corroborated some of what Fowler said about Novus’ significance.

“It looks like it works well with the Ineos plant,” Whitlow said. “I have faith they will come through with a good project here.”

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Former Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest worked for the Victoria Advocate from August 2012-September 2019, first as the courts reporter and then as the environment/investigations reporter. Read her work now at www.jessicapriest.me.

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