A new chapter in the history of West Virginia Operations began when Union Carbide Corporation became a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company in 2001. The company’s past has laid the foundation for WVO’s success.
The world's first petrochemical plant was constructed by Union Carbide Corporation in 1920 at Clendenin, West Virginia. By 1925 the manufacture of chemicals had grown to the point that another plant was leased (later purchased), and the Clendenin operation and personnel were moved to the new location at South Charleston, West Virginia.
The research, development and production experience at Clendenin paved the way for the growth of the South Charleston Site that occupies Blaine Island and extends across the Kanawha River into Charleston. Many of the plant's current product lines were developed and first produced at the South Charleston Site. They were later moved to other plants when increased production capacity became necessary. Major corporate products were produced at the plant and over time, other major technological advances developed here including olefin gas separation techniques and vinyls technology. Other major technological advances developed here including olefin gas separation techniques and vinyls technology.
In an effort to enhance business development the Technical Center became an open campus in 2003 and is now known as the South Charleston Technology Park. The South Charleston Technical Center’s first research laboratory was officially dedicated in 1949. Prior to that time, research and development for petrochemicals and plastics were performed at the South Charleston Site. In 1959, with the addition of two large development laboratories and an engineering building, the facility became a full-scale Technical Center. Then, in 1977, a large data processing building was constructed and placed in operation.
The Institute Site was originally built in 1943 as a government facility for production of synthetic rubber for the war effort. In 1947 Union Carbide purchased the plant from the government to produce commodity-type products. Over the years, the make-up of the plant has changed from production of commodity chemicals to specialty chemicals.
In December 1986, the plant was sold to a French chemical manufacturer, Rhone-Poulenc. The plant was later purchased by Aventis CropScience, under agreements that the plant would share certain facilities. In 1990, the Polyols Unit of the plant was sold to ARCO Chemical. Today, the plant is owned by Bayer Corporation. Bayer owns the plant site proper, the general facilities and the agricultural producing units at Institute. Thus, Union Carbide is now a tenant at the site.