CHEMICAL giant Dow has confirmed it is pressing ahead with plans to close a plant on Teesside which employs 55 people.
In a fresh blow for the region’s chemicals industry, the US company said it aimed to shut the ethylene oxide and glycol (EO/EG) plant at the Wilton International site – the only one of its kind in the UK – by the end of January next year.
Dow made the announcement at the end of a consultation with workers. It said staff would now go forward to individual discussions with managers about redundancy or redeployment elsewhere with the company.
Site leader at Dow (Wilton), Malcolm Wilson, said: “Decisions to shut down a facility are not taken lightly. A comprehensive review of potential options has been conducted prior to and during the employee consultation period.
“Though a workable solution was not identified, we still remain open to alternatives. Such an alternative must take our employees’ welfare into consideration and be reasonable from a business standpoint.”
However, Dow has offered a glimmer of hope to workers by suggesting it was still open to offers to take over the plant.
Lee Christens, global business director Dow EO/EG, said: “We remain open to considering options brought forward that are both in our employees’ interests and commercially viable.
“At this time, we are supporting One North East with its final scoping assessment, though we will continue with our plans to close the facility unless a viable alternative arises.”
Dow, which employs 46,000 worldwide including more than 200 people at its Wilton, Billingham, Seal Sands and Middlesbrough sites, is axing 5,000 jobs and shutting 20 plants globally in a bid to save £473m by next year.
The EO/EG plant was built by ICI in 1969 as an integrated part of the Wilton site, which was planned to maximise efficiency and cut costs. It was sold to Union Carbide in 1995, which merged with Dow in 2001.
It uses ethelyne from the Sabic cracker and produces ethelyne oxide, which is sent to Croda as the next link in the chain to make ingredients for detergents and shampoos.
Changes at the interlinked plants inevitably impact on their neighbours in the under-pressure chemicals industry. In addition to the expected EO/EG closure, Invista Textiles, Croda and Elementis have all announced plans to pull out of Teesside, and the Artenius plastics plant was mothballed after being placed in administration.