Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 17:24 UK

Jobs blow as chemical plants shut

Dow Chemicals, Wilton
Dow's Wilton plant is the only UK producer of ethylene oxide

Two chemical plants are to close on Teesside in the next six months, with the loss of almost 200 jobs.

The Dow Chemical Company blamed the recession for the loss of 55 jobs when its ethylene oxide and glycol (EOEG) production facility shuts at Wilton.

Croda International said it was forced to close its nearby plant, which uses raw materials from Dow, axing 125 jobs.

The Unite union warned the cuts could "ripple" across the industry, and lead to further redundancies.

Both facilities are due to shut by the end of January 2010.

A spokesman for Dow said the decision followed efforts to find a buyer for the plant, which is one of four it runs on Teesside.

Talks over staff redundancy arrangements have begun.

Malcolm Wilson, site leader for Dow (Wilton) Ltd, said: "A comprehensive review of potential options was conducted, which included seeking a buyer for the site and engagement with industry leaders, regional and government groups to identify alternatives to a shutdown.

The operations at Dow and Croda have been integral to the site for many decades
Wilton International

"A workable option was not identified and without an economically viable alternative it is with great regret we have to announce our intention to stop production at Wilton by the end of January 2010."

A Croda spokesman said: "Dow's decision makes our operation no longer economically viable.

"During the coming weeks and months we will work closely with our employees, all of whom have worked hard for our business over many years, to help them prepare for the transition ahead."

Dow's Wilton plant is the only one in the UK to produce ethylene oxide.

The Wilton complex is home to a number of chemical companies including Ensus, Sembcorp and Huntsman.

'Devastating loss'

In a statement, operator Wilton International said the job losses were a "serious blow".

The statement added: "It is sad and disappointing news after considerable efforts in recent months to find a solution which would allow operations to continue."

Phil McNulty, national officer with Unite, said the Wilton plant should not be shut, adding: "It cannot be stressed enough that this plant stands at the heart of a strategic business for the UK.

"Unite is working day and night to find a solution to this threatened closure because its loss would be devastating.

"This plant doesn't just provide skilled work for hundreds of people in Teesside where decent jobs are becoming scarce, but the product it produces is also vital to the enduring success of the UK chemical sector."

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