Kinston plant continues to rebound after explosion

Posted March 9, 2011 11:35 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2011 12:49 p.m. EST

— A company that makes drug delivery products plans to announce Thursday an expansion of its Kinston plant, eight years after an explosion destroyed the plant.

West Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WST) plans to invest $29 million in the plant over the next five years, which company officials said could lead to expanding its work force in Kinston.

West selected the Kinston facility from among its plants in North Carolina, Florida and Nebraska for the investment, company officials said. The expansion will allow the plant to make packaging components for high-value pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical drug products, they said.

The company will receive up to $1.5 million in state and local incentives and up to $2 million in investment tax credits for the expansion, officials said.

The Kinston plant was destroyed in a Jan. 29, 2003, explosion that killed six workers and injured more than 40. Investigators determined that combustible dust inside the plant ignited, causing the fire.

The state Department of Labor fined West Pharmaceuticals $400,000 after the explosion, citing deficiencies in the plant design, two electrical systems and employee training.

The company rebuilt the plant and reopened in early 2004. It invested $20 million in the plant between late 2007 and last year for a previous expansion.

Based in Lionville, Pa., West Pharmaceuticals manufactures components and systems for injectable drug delivery and for blood collection. The company operates plants in North and South America, Europe, Mexico, Japan, Asia and Australia.