Improvements totaling around $30 million will be made in the months ahead by BASF at its Hannibal site.

Improvements totaling around $30 million will be made in the months ahead by BASF at its Hannibal site.

“Infrastructure upgrades are being developed for process water and effluent systems, waste treatment and electrical power. We are investing for the future,” said Michael McFarlane,

site manager at BASF’s Hannibal facility.

One of the major changes will be a conversion from coal to natural gas-burning boilers.

According to McFarlane, the conversion is being done with the environment in mind.

“For many years BASF has been a leader in creating products that reduce overall environmental impact. One of our BASF Global Goals states ‘We aim to reduce air pollutants from our chemical plants by 70 percent compared with 2002.’ The new boiler project allows us to help achieve our goal and also meet future regulations,” he said.

It’s possible the conversion will also save the company money.

“The impact on operational cost will be determined by the price of natural gas compared to the price of coal. Favorable natural gas pricing will provide savings to the company,” said McFarlane.

BASF has been leasing its coal-fired boilers since January 1980. Keeping them functioning is not cheap.

“Maintenance costs have increased to a point that significant investment is required to keep the boilers operational,” said McFarlane. “We had the option to invest money in the coal-fired plant, but our decision to change technology is more consistent with our company mission and goals. Sustainability is an important element of our purpose.”

Plans for the conversion began in 2011 with an engineering study. “Detailed engineering” on the project is ongoing, with the hope that the “facility preparations will begin in the third quarter of 2013,” according to McFarlane.

The conversion, which is expected to take from 1.5 to 2 years, will not impact the Hannibal site’s operations.

“BASF will continue to operate our plant without interruption to our customers. Project construction will be coordinated within the plant to minimize any impact on production,” said McFarlane.