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How much vinyl chloride is shipped from OxyVinyls around the U.S. every year?

While 16 factories around North America19-24, b produce PVC from vinyl chloride, those located far from clusters of petrochemical production must rely on rail transport. OxyVinyls, with vinyl chloride production in Texas and PVC manufacture with its business partner Orbia in Illinois, New Jersey, and Ontario, is the company producing PVC the farthest from its vinyl chloride sources.

Oxyvinyls’ supply chain is dangerously long, as evidenced by the rail disasters in East Palestine, Ohio and Paulsboro, New Jersey.

We mapped the most likely rail routes from OxyVinyls’ Houston-area and Ingleside, Texas vinyl chloride plants to the four destinations: Orbia in Henry, IL; OxyVinyls and Orbia in Pedricktown, NJ; and OxyVinyls in Niagara Falls, ON. Then, pairing those likely routes and associated travel times with the approximate demand for vinyl chloride for each plant, we created an estimate for the number of rail cars filled with vinyl chloride traveling to each of those plants.

The table below summarizes the estimated number of train cars and the quantity of vinyl chloride shipped by rail from OxyVinyls across the country daily and on an annual basis. The average tank car (based on information in manifests for deliveries in the East Palestine and Paulsboro disasters) carries 177,111 pounds of vinyl chloride.1, 25, c See the Material Research’s Methodology (PDF) for detailed calculations behind this table.

Table 1: Estimated OxyVinyls Rail Deliveries of Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) to PVC Plastics Plants

PVC Plant
and Location
Maximum VCM
(pounds per day)
Maximum VCM
Tank Cars Demand
(per day)
Travel Time from
La Porte, Texasd
to Destination
Maximum Tanks
En Route
Pounds of VCM
on Tracks at Any Moment
Maximum Number
of VCM Tank Car
(per year)
OxyVinyls –
Pedricktown, NJ
1,353,425 7.64 9.9 days 75.64 13,398,907 2,788.60
Orbia –
Pedricktown, NJ
408,000 2.30 9.9 days 22.77 4,039,200 839.50
Orbia –
Henry, IL
293,479 1.66 5.0 days 8.32 1,466,479 605.90
OxyVinyls –
Niagara Falls, ON
2,116,438 11.95 8.4 days 100.38 17,778,076 4,361.75
TOTAL 4,171,342
pounds of
vinyl chloride
per day
vinyl chloride
tank cars per day
(containing an estimated
177,111 pounds each)
tank cars en route
at any moment
pounds of vinyl
chloride on cars
at any moment
vinyl chloride
tank cars
transported annually

b Orbia – Altamira (Mexico):; Orbia – Henry and  Pedricktown:; Formosa – Baton Rouge and Point Comfort:; Occidental – Pedricktown, Pasadena, Deer Park, Niagara Falls ON:; Shin-Etsu – Plaquemine, Addis, Freeport:; Westlake – Calvert City, Geismar, Plaquemine, Aberdeen

c The National Transportation Safety Board published four bills of lading from the Paulsboro disaster. The cars carried 175,050, 175,950, 176,500, and 179,100 pounds of VCM. (exhibit 222) EPA’s East Palestine records list four tank cars carrying 178,150, 178,300, 177,250 and 177,600 pounds VCM.

d Calculations are based upon sourcing from OxyVinyls’ La Porte/Deer Park complex, near Houston. However, OTMA car repair records, visual evidence, and other reports show that OxyVinyls’ other VCM plant in Ingleside, TX also supplies distant PVC plants, though less frequently than La Porte. The Ingleside plant is near Corpus Christi, more than 200 miles southwest of La Porte, so trains from this plant would travel over a longer route.