Chemical giant Ineos is set to close the Seal Sands plant on Teeside. The plant handles a variety of hazardous chemicals to produce acrylonitrile, a fundamental component in plastics and synthetic rubber production.
Should the plant be closed, it could put about 220 jobs at risk, although the company has stated not all jobs would be lost as workers would still be needed manage systems at the facility.
Ineos puts the move down to underinvestment prior to the company taking over the plant in 2008. According to the company, it has invested about £178m, but would need the same again to meet Ineos corporate standards and environmental regulations.
The BBC reported that CEO Paul Overment said the decision was made “with a heavy heart”.
Overment further added: “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.”
According to reports in the Guardian, Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire owner of Ineos, said “nothing can be done” to save the plant, which is no longer economically viable.
The Unite union said the region could ill-afford to lose the highly-skilled jobs. The union is calling for talks with the company.