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Marianna Ohe (202) 565-3200

WASHINGTON, D.C.: A loan guarantee by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is enabling Aqua-Chem, Inc., Milwaukee, WI, to sell an $8 million seawater desalination plant to the Caribbean island of Aruba. The environmentally beneficial export is providing Aruba with potable water while helping sustain 43 jobs at Aqua-Chem`s Milwaukee headquarters and Knoxville, TN plant.

Aqua-Chem will design, manufacture and install the desalination plant for the Water-En Energiebedrijf (WEB), Aruba`s water and electricity company. More than 25 U.S. subsuppliers around the country also will participate in the project.

This time of year, work on the Aruba project helps a lot of employees here who need a little extra money for Christmas, said William Wheeler, lead man in the Knoxville plant`s weld assembly department. We`re working overtime and that helps people.

The desalination plant will generate approximately 1,100 gallons per minute of treated water, to be used mainly for drinking but also for electricity production. The plant produces distilled water from seawater by heating it until it is ready to vaporize under vacuum conditions, then condensing it as a distillate. The concentrated brine left over is mixed with cooling water and returned to the sea via a discharge canal.

This project will provide pure drinking water to support Aruba`s population growth and the island`s 25 percent annual increase in tourism, said Julie D. Belaga, Ex-Im Bank board director and chief operating officer.

For the Aruba project, Ex-Im Bank is guaranteeing a loan by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Chicago, IL to be repaid over seven years. Under Ex-Im Bank`s loan, guarantee, and medium-term insurance programs, exporters of environmentally beneficial equipment are offered enhanced repayment terms, capitalization of interest during construction of a project, and local cost coverage equal to 15 percent of the U.S. contract price.

Without Ex-Im Bank support, WEB would have had to seek financing from European sources, said Aqua-Chem Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Miller. U.S. companies such as Aqua-Chem would lose a very important competitive advantage.

The sale to Aruba also will support jobs at more than 25 U.S. subsuppliers, including Nova-Spec, Milwaukee, WI; Goulds Pumps, Inc., City of Industry, CA and Seneca Falls, NY; Flowtronex, Inc., Houston, TX; Siskin Steel, Inc., Chattanooga, TN; Specialized Systems, Inc., Mokena, IL; and GE Supply Co., Milwaukee, WI.

Ex-Im Bank, the official export credit agency of the United States, is an independent federal agency that helps create and sustain U.S. jobs by financing exports. The Bank authorized $12.2 billion in financing in fiscal 1997. Annually, the Bank supports over 200,000 jobs directly and more than one million indirectly through subsuppliers.