Potential closure of INEOS Seal Sands acrylonitrile plant

Article by Amanda Doyle

INEOS has announced that it is consulting with employees over the potential closure of its Seal Sands acrylonitrile plant in Cleveland, UK.

INEOS has owned the site since 2008 and has already invested almost €200m (US$220) in the site. The investment was needed to counter decades of underinvestment, the company says, however it would still require another €200m just to meet INEOS standards and environmental regulations. All profit has been put back into the site, but INEOS believes that nothing more can be done to make operations safe and economically viable.

The acrylonitrile plant requires handling of hazardous material and the long-term safety of employees cannot be guaranteed with continued operation of the plant, the company says.

Paul Overment, CEO of INEOS Nitriles, said, “After considering many options, we feel that we must now consult with employees on the potential closure of the plant. We do so with a heavy heart but there is no escaping the fact that decades of underinvestment on the site have led us to this point.   Manufacturing assets need constant renewal if they are to survive. The last ten years have proven that it is almost impossible to play catch-up and the lesson for us and other UK manufacturers is that constant reinvestment is vital for long term prosperity.”

The site employs 224 people, although not all jobs will be lost as some would switch to other activities at Seal Sands. The Unite union has called for an urgent meeting with INEOS. Unite Regional Officer Tan Rashid said: “The region can ill-afford to lose these highly skilled jobs – and we will be giving maximum support to our members in the days and weeks ahead during this stressful time.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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