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Port of Wilmington buys shuttered Chemours chemical plant for $10 million

The Port of Wilmington announced Friday that it would buy the former Chemours Edgemoor manufacturing site on the Delaware River for $10 million.

The 114-acre property, north of Wilmington's current port, had been a Chemours manufacturing site for the chemical titanium dioxide, used as a whitener in paper manufacturing.

When the plant, which had 200 employees and 130 contractors, closed in October 2015, Chemours said the property would be returned to benefit the community and state.

The Diamond State Port Corp., which operates the Wilmington port, plans to seek an investor to develop the property for a container terminal "consistent with our strategic master plan," port spokesman John Haroldson said. "We'd need an investor to come up with the hundreds of millions of dollars to build it out."

The agreement has the support of the port's major labor union, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, and other elected officials.

"Today is a great day for our entire port community," said William Ashe Jr., vice president of the International Longshoremen's Association. "The purchase of this property will provide the additional space required to support our existing customers and allow for increased work for our membership."

U.S. Rep. and Gov.-elect John Carney said Wilmington's current port is "near capacity, and with larger ships coming up the East Coast, we need this space to compete for their business."

Chemours, a chemical company based in Wilmington and spun off from the DuPont Co., announced closure of the Edgemoor manufacturing operation in August 2015.

The plant was closed because the uses and demand for white paper have declined over the years. "It was important to us that we wanted to work closely with the surrounding community and the local and state economic development leaders to find a productive reuse of this site," Chemours spokeswoman Robin Ollis Stemple said.

The port corporation's strategic plan, released in the spring, concluded that expansion of the port, on the Christina and Delaware Rivers, was vital to the Wilmington port's long-term survival. The plan provided several scenarios for growth, including the development of the Chemours site at Edgemoor.

"While this purchase does not guarantee that a new port facility will be built at Edgemoor, it does give us a valuable option to market to potential investors," said Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, chairman of the port corporation board. "The Edgemoor site will be marketed with Riveredge, located south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, as the Diamond State Port Corp.'s two primary options for expansion," he said.

The sale is expected to close early next year.