Ineos bosses defend record on pollution

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Petrochemical giant Ineos has hit back at reports the environmental performance of its Grangemouth refinery is “poor”.

Bosses responded to an article in a Sunday newspaper claiming the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) had given it one of its lowest ratings for the second year running because of nine incidents that caused pollution in 2016.

The story came just nine days after staff had to be evacuated and nearby schools placed in lockdown when a leak at the Ineos Kinneil Gas Plant sparked a major alert.

But yesterday (Wednesday) Ineos moved to set the record straight.

Spokesman David East insisted: “Despite the bias of the reporting, Ineos would like to point out that SEPA has officially rated the Grangemouth site, Scotland’s largest industrial site, as being ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in four out of its five of its Compliance Assessment Scheme reports in 2016.

“Indeed, four out of five were all rated ‘excellent’ in 2015.

“Given the rigorousness and strict standards against which we are assessed and the scheme reports under, we are pleased with this assessment by the regulator of our overall performance. However, we will always work hard to ensure safe operations and continual improvement in all that we do.

“Where improvements are required we have identified these and working closely with the regulator to deliver an ongoing improvement in our safety and environmental performance.”

The refinery is operated by Petroineos Manufacturing Scotland Limited. The leak at the Kinneil Gas Plant now being investigated by SEPA and the Health and Safety Executive is operated by Ineos Chemicals Grangemouth Limited.

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA chief executive, said: “The incidents during 2015 and 2016 were all investigated by SEPA and, although they collectively resulted in a ‘poor’ compliance rating, none of the incidents necessitated the most significant enforcement action.

“It should also be recognised that as a result of tighter controls applied by SEPA and investment by Petroineos there have been significant reductions in overall emissions of sulphur dioxide which is reflected in the improvement in air quality in Grangemouth in recent years.

“SEPA will take tough action where a business is not taking compliance seriously and presents an unacceptable risk to the environment and communities.”

Central Scotland Labour MSP Richard Leonard called for SEPA to establish a permanent base in Grangemouth to keep a closer eye on things.

He claimed: “It is fundamental that the community of Grangemouth and the workforce at the plant stay and work in a safe environment.”