The ICL Carondelet Plant is located on
nineteen acres in the south St. Louis community of Carondelet. The
area is a mixed commercial and residential community, with apartments,
small residences, and numerous small businesses located in close proximity
to the plant’s fence line. A channelized stream, the River des
Peres, flows to the south of the plant, emptying into the Mississippi
River about one mile east of the plant.
The Carondelet community was founded in
1776 by French and Creole settlers, 5 miles south of the settlement of St.
Louis. The region was under the control of the Spanish government,
later becoming French, and then becoming a part of the United States in
1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. The area developed as a rural
working class/farming community, and later also became a site for the
“country homes” of wealthy St. Louisans. By 1870, Carondelet
village had been incorporated into the city of St. Louis.
The Carondelet area has a long history of
industrialization, beginning in the late 1840’s with lead refining and
the manufacturing of lead shot. At the same time, the Iron Mountain
railroad line was established and ran through the area transporting iron
ore from southwestern Missouri to the developing St. Louis iron industry.
During the Civil War, the Carondelet shipyard manufactured 32 ironclad
gunships for the Union Army.
Information about the history of the
current Carondelet Plant site dates from about 1870. Between
1870-1930, Hertz Metal Company operated a lead smelter at the present acid
plant location. Hertz also produced bailing wire. During the
1870’s, an iron foundry was located on the north side of Weber, with an
iron smelter that was located northeast of the lead smelter.
In 1876, Provident Chemical Works
established a “salt flats” plant at the site of the present plant,
south of the MOPAC railroad tracks. From the 1876-1912 this plant
manufactured phosphoric acid by acidulating bone black with sulfuric acid
and concentrating the acid in lead pans. Phosphoric acid was reacted
with lime to manufacture monocalcium phosphate (MCP). Provident
Chemical also manufactured sulfuric acid on site from elemental sulfur or
sulfur bearing materials. By the turn of the century, Provident
Chemical was a leader in phosphate manufacturing.
Throughout the 1800’s, until the
1920’s, the flood plains adjacent to the River des Peres were used for
farming. This activity was gradually abandoned in the early 1920’s
because of persistent flooding and the flood plains were then used for
trash disposal by the City of St. Louis.
Between 1912-1921, as bone black became
scarce, Provident Chemical began to manufacture phosphoric acid from
phosphate ore. The first major plant expansion took place in 1917,
when new buildings were built to house the new phosphoric acid operations.
Nitric acid and sulfuric acid were also used and manufactured on site.
A coal fired steam plant was used to supply power. In 1921, the
electric arc furnace process of producing elemental phosphorus made a high
grade of phosphoric acid commercially available, so Provident Chemical
began to purchase phosphoric acid for phosphate chemical manufacture.
In the mid-1920’s, Provident Chemical was
purchased by Swann Chemical Company. Swann manufactured MCP,
tricalcium phosphate (TCP), other phosphate related compounds, starch, and
In 1935 Monsanto Company purchased Swann
chemical. Monsanto considered moving the former Swann operations to
the W.G. Krummrich plant, but instead decided to modernize the existing
operations at the “new” Carondelet plant. Monsanto continued to
purchase phosphoric acid to manufacture a variety of phosphate compounds
and added dicalcium phosphate anhydrous (DCPA) to the plant portfolio.
In 1942, the plant was expanded to build facilities for a new leavener,
Other business establishments continued to
be located on portions of the present plant site. During the
1940’s, a packaging company was located on the present maintenance
building site. They bottled trichloroethane, benzol, etc. for army
usage. In 1944, the production, maintenance, warehouse and service
employees became represented by ICWU Local 81. During the
1950’s, the Blackburn Company used the above site to copper plate
lightning rods. In addition, the River des Peres ran through the
site until it was rerouted by a WPA project about 1934-1935. When
the River des Peres was rerouted, the old channel was backfilled and
additional filling continued through about 1958.
During the 1950’s-1960’s, Monsanto
gradually expanded into its current site, as space requirements increased
and additional business opportunities developed. Due to the geology
of the plant site, extensive filling was required in certain areas to
allow for the expansion. The plant entered the detergent business in
1951 with the addition of the sodium tripolyphosphate (STP) department.
Several phosphates were added in 1955; all were later discontinued with
the exception of monopotassium phosphate (MKP). In 1963, the
Carondelet plant began to manufacture a number of related leavening
agents, all classified as sodium aluminum phosphates (SALP).
Throughout this period, for 36 years, the
Carondelet plant continued to purchase phosphoric acid for use in its
expanding range of phosphate manufacturing. In February 1971, a new
acid plant was started up to manufacture high quality phosphoric acid.
In 1985, a major modification was made to the acid plant to recover the
heat generated from burning phosphorus. This heat is used to produce
steam and to supply energy to the rest of the plant’s manufacturing
units. Modifications, upgrades, and improvements continue to be made
throughout the plant, from MCP to Maintenance, Pyran, the NaK and Calcium
packaging areas, and training. Operations have changed as well, from
“hands-on” field operated equipment to control rooms where automatic
production equipment is operated from control panels and computers.
On September 1, 1997, Monsanto spun off the chemical
segment which became a new company - Solutia Inc. The Phosphorus
& Derivatives part of the business of which Carondelet is a member,
became a part of the new company.
The Carondelet Plant, as part of Solutia Inc. continues
to be a leader in phosphate and phosphoric acid manufacturing. The
current plant produces over 250 million pounds per year, in six major
production units: Phosphoric acid; STP, MKP/DKP; TCP/TMP; MCP; and
The Carondelet Plant became part of a Joint Venture in
April of 2000 between FMC and Solutia. The new company is named Astaris,
LCC. The new company will specialize in Phosphates and Derivatives.
On November 5, 2005, Astaris was purchased by Israel
Chemical Limited. ICL is a worldwide chemical company with 29% of it in