Merck KGaA has resumed normal operations at the Onahama production site in Japan. Among other products, the Onahama site manufactures Xirallic effect pigments, which are widely used in high-quality automotive coatings owing to their pearl-luster effects.
The damage to the production units and infrastructure caused by the catastrophic earthquake in northeastern Japan on March 11 resulted in the stoppage of pigment production in Onahama. The recovery and repair work, which began on April 4, has been completed ahead of schedule. At the same time, progress has been made in restoring the external infrastructure. Merck expects the plant will achieve its regular production output in June.
The Onahama site is located 57 km south of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and outside the evacuation zone. Merck is continually monitoring all public directives regarding radiation levels in order to ensure the safety of its employees. The company is also testing the products being shipped from Merck Japan to ensure that they comply fully with all regulations and safety standards.
Apart from Onahama, Merck will establish an alternative production site for Xirallic effect pigments. It is planned to have additional capacity for Xirallic pigments in Germany by the end of 2011. This will boost future supply reliability of Xirallic products as of 2012, the company said.