Ineos Talks to Staff About Seals Sands ACN Closure

07.10.2019 -

As Brexit nears, concern is rising in the UK over Ineos’ proposal to close its 280,000 t/y acrylonitrile plant at Seal Sands on Teesside in northeast England. The Swiss-headquartered, formerly British, chemical group said it plans to consult with the facility’s more than 200 employees about the plans.

At the same time, Ineos, which took over the Seal Sands facility from BASF in 2008, said not all of the 224 jobs are at risk, as other activities at the site will continue.

The chemical producer said it has invested almost €200 million in an effort to keep the plant viable and faces the need to invest the same amount again going forward to meet its own standards and comply with environmental regulations.   

Paul Overment, CEO of Ineos Nitriles, acknowledged that the cost of continuing investment in production of the chemical intermediate was prohibitive. The ACN process, he said, requires careful management and involves handling significant quantities of hazardous material; it would be difficult to guarantee the long-term safety of the plant’s employees or the site’s neighbors if it were to remain open.

“The last 10 years,” Overment added, “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.”

Last year, Ineos director Tom Crotty queried the UK government abut deferring compliance with regulations in the interest of projecting jobs at the plant, then listed as 300, and 2,000 positions the plant supports in the town of Middlesbrough as a whole, Crotty said.