Hundreds of jobs at risk as staff at chemical plant on outskirts of Hartlepool told it may close

A chemical plant that employs more than 200 people could close with its owners blaming years of under investment.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 2:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 6:11 pm
The INEOS site at Seal Sands. Picture: Google

INEOS has announced its intention to consult with employees on the proposed closure of its acrylonitrile manufacturing plant at Seal Sands, which employs 224 people.

The company feels it cannot guarantee the long-term safety of their employees or neighbours by continuing to operate the plant.

It says it has invested almost €200 million (£177m) in an effort to keep the plant viable since taking ownership in 2008, to try to counter decades of significant under investment and faces a similar level just to meet INEOS standards and environmental regulations.

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The union Unite has described the news as a ‘serious blow’ to the North East manufacturing economy and called for urgent talks.

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.”

The plant is one of the largest manufacturers in Europe of the chemical compound acrylonitrile, a volatile liquid used in the production of rubber, resins, plastics, and synthetic fibers.

INEOS says it intends to consult on any viable alternatives to closure and that if the plant does close not all jobs would be at risk of redundancy due to the continuation of other activities at Seal Sands.

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.

“We are meeting with our reps this afternoon to chart the next steps forward during the consultation period.”