INEOS launches consultation on potential closure of Seal Sands acrylonitrile plant

INEOS launches consultation on potential closure of Seal Sands acrylonitrile plant
Published: 3 October 2019 - 7 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery
INEOS has announced its intention to consult with employees on the proposed closure of the acrylonitrile manufacturing plant at Seal Sands on Teesside.

The site, which employs 224 people, has been in INEOS ownership since 2008. In the event the plant closes, not all of these positions will be at risk of redundancy due to the continuation of other activities at Seal Sands.

Over the past 10 years, INEOS has invested almost $219mn in the site to try to counter decades of significant under investment. Despite the company’s best efforts and the fact that every penny of profit has been ploughed back into the site to reverse this situation, the company is of the view that nothing more can be done to ensure that operations are both safe and economically viable.

It would require another $219mn just to meet INEOS standards and environmental regulations. The company intends to consult on any viable alternatives to closure.

The acrylonitrile process needs careful management and involves handling significant quantities of hazardous material. The company feels that it would not be possible to guarantee the long-term safety of its employees, or its neighbours through continued operation of the plant and have thus reluctantly concluded that the company should consider the option to close.

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 under investment on the site have led us to this point. Manufacturing assets need constant renewal if they are to survive. The last 10 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.

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