BOC is about to break ground for a new air separation unit in Cartersville, Georgia, some 50 miles northwest of Atlanta.

The company will begin construction on the plant this month, with commissioning seen by the third quarter of 2007. Once finished, the plant will cryogenically separate air to produce over 700 tons a day of liquid oxygen and nitrogen. From there the gases will be trucked to hospitals, food processors, metals and chemicals manufacturers in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

'These investments, which include three new hydrogen plants, enable BOC to help customers meet their businesses' changing and growing demands. This plant gives us a strong supply capability along the entire East Coast and an extremely strong gases supply network in the Southeast, one of the fastest growing regions of the country.'

According to the US Dept. of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Southeast region's gross state product grew by 4.8 per cent in 2004, significantly higher than the 2.9 percent average annual growth rate seen between 1997 and 2003 and above the US 2004 rate of 4.3 per cent.

With this plant, BOC will be the first company to buy property in the city's Guyton Industrial Park. BOC will employ between 35 to 40 people at the plant, most of whom will be truck drivers.

This is the final phase of a three-part effort to strengthen BOC's operations in the Southeast. In 2002 BOC opened its 750-ton a day Midland, North Carolina, air separation unit, serving chemical manufacturers, food processors, medical facilities and pulp and paper industries. BOC later shut an older, less energy efficient plant near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

'BOC is replacing and adding production capacity in the southeast to meet our customers' growing needs. This merchant plant also enables us to free up existing production capacity so we can better support the growth of our onsite and pipeline customers,' Burt said.