News Code : 43492

Petrotahlil :Ineos is preparing to shut a chemical plant in Teesside which it has owned for the past 10 years in a blow to hundreds of workers in the north-east of England.

The chemicals company, owned by the billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, said “nothing can be done” to save the plant at Seal Sands, which is no longer economically viable.

The closure could mean the loss of 220 jobs, months after Ratcliffe left the UK for Monaco to save an estimated £4bn in tax.

Tan Rashid, Unite’s regional officer, said Ineos’s decision is “a serious blow” to the manufacturing economy of the north-east and could threaten more than 200 jobs.

“It is painful news for the workforce and their families, and Unite is calling for urgent talks with Ineos management to explore all options to keep the plant operating as a going concern,” 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,” he added.

Ineos said it had invested almost €200m (£178m) in the site since taking ownership in 2008 to counter “decades of significant under investment”, but cannot guarantee the long-term safety of the site.

Seal Sands handles significant quantities of hazardous materials to produce a petrochemical called acrylonitrile, used to manufacture the chemical building blocks required to make plastics and synthetic rubber.

“It would require another €200m just to meet Ineos standards and environmental regulations,” a statement from Ineos said. “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.”

Ineos said it would consult with the 224 employees at the site, and said not all would face redundancy if the plant closes.

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