Feds: Local Product Threat To National Security 9-13-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Feds: Local Product Threat To National Security 9-13-2010

Hundreds of Mid-Michigan jobs are at risk as the federal government steps in to force a local manufacturer to halt some of its sales.
The government claims it's a matter of national security, but the company isn't buying the excuse.
The problem? The company manufactures large, 400-plus gallon mixers used to mix the explosive propellants that help launch rockets and missiles.
"The booster rockets on the space shuttle are mixed in a machine similar to this," said Larry Slovin, president of B & P Process Equipment in Saginaw.
Slovin said his company is an exclusive seller to the Department of Defense and countries around the world. But in August, the federal government prevented the export of materials to a frequent Taiwanese buyer.
"This is an example of where a small business is really getting hurt," said Slovin.
The Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology wants to buy a new mixer to replace an older version they bought from B & P years ago. The mixers help make the propellant used to launch rockets for studying weather patterns and typhoons.
"It doesn't really give them anymore capabilities than they already have," said Slovin.
But the federal government claims the sale is a threat to national security.
In a letter to B & P, the U.S. Department of Commerce stated, "We believe that the export presents an unacceptable risk of contributing to activities detrimental to U.S. foreign policy, including our missile nonproliferation interests."
"Technically they could, but I don't think they have the capability," said Slovin. "And I don't think the United States is worried about Taiwan, Taiwan's [an] ally."
WNEM TV5 contacted the Department of Commerce by phone on Monday. Just last year the company was permitted to sell a mixer to Egypt, and before that, Korea.
TV5 is still waiting for answers about the $2.5 million machine. The sale affects the job security of nearly 300 Mid-Michiganders.
"We're going to put someone else in the business and teach them how to do it, and it's going to be more risky for the U.S. government," said Slovin.
B & P did file an appeal to the denial. The next step is to wait to hear back from the State Department, and hopefully have a sit down talk with them on the issue.
B & P also engineers other types of large-scale mixers and separation systems for companies around the globe.
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