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Morton Salt's Bahamas facility damaged by Hurricane Irma

Morton Salt's salt production facility on Great Inagua, the southernmost island of the Bahamas, sustained significant damage from Hurricane Irma last weekend, the company confirmed Thursday.

The Chicago-based company employs 145 people at the island site, from which it harvests a massive amount of salt from the ocean. Morton Salt closed the plant on Sept. 6 as the storm approached and all employees made it through the storm safely, spokesman Paul Jackiewicz said in an email.

But the facility sustained structural damage, the extent of which is still being assessed, Jackiewicz said.

The Bahama Journal quoted a local official calling it "millions of dollars" worth of damage. Jackiewicz said that estimate wasn't "provided or verified by Morton."

"We already have a specialized team on the ground in Inagua to conduct a full assessment of any impact on our operations. Given that this process is still underway, we cannot provide specific details on the extent of the damage," Jackiewicz said, adding that it was premature to say how it might affect Morton Salt's overall business.

Morton Salt, acquired by the German firm K&S Group in 2009, bought the Inagua site in 1954.

"Morton Salt is committed to its presence on Inagua and we intend to resume operations there as soon as safely possible," Jackiewicz said.

Morton's salt field on the island — where sea water is turned into commercial salt — spans 30,000 acres, representing about 7.5 percent of the island's roughly 400,000 acres, he said. Morton is the island's largest employer.

 

gtrotter@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @GregTrotterTrib

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