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Union's safety concerns after leak at Grangemouth oil refinery

Unite Union said the leak at the Ineos run plant must not be viewed as a "minor" incident.

Grangemouth refinery creative commons x flickr
B4bees

A union has called into question safety standards at Grangemouth after a leak at the oil refinery.

A full multi-agency response was launched at the Ineos site in the town on Tuesday after the alarm was sounded at around 10.45am.

Emergency services rushed to the scene of the Butane gas leak on Boness Road and worked to secure the site.

Pupils at nearby schools were ordered to remain inside until it was deemed safe. The all-clear was given a short time later.

However, Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary of the Unite Union, said the leak at the Ineos run plant must not be viewed as a "minor" incident.

He said: “Grangemouth is Scotland’s premier industrial site so it is vital that the workforce, the local community and the contractors can have every confidence that it is being run with maximum emphasis on safety.

“The butane leak is not a minor incident, the lock-down of the site and the surrounding areas, including the need for local schools to keep children indoors until the all-clear was given, was a reflection of the severity of this incident.

"It is no secret to the company that we are seriously concerned that the number of safety specialists on the site has been cut to a level that we regard as unacceptable and so I stress again to Ineos, work with us to rectify this situation."

On Thursday, Ineos announced that the company had agreed to buy the power plant which supplies the Grangemouth industrial site for £54m from Finnish company Fortum.

However, Mr Rafferty added that the same safety concerns would apply to the running of the power plant.

He said: "The duty of care will now come under Ineos and we want to make sure that due diligence in regards to safety concerns we have raised about Grangemouth are taken into account at the power plant also."

A spokesman for Ineos said: "The safety performance of the Chemicals business at Grangemouth in 2014 has been exceptional to date. Tuesday's incident was dealt with professionally and fully in accordance with our procedures.

"Safety has always been and will always remain our top priority. Our incident management team and highly trained on-site emergency response teams were alerted to a butane gas leak from a small piece of equipment on the south side of the site.

"Our safety response procedures worked well, and the on-site incident was resolved quickly and thoroughly. At no point was there a requirement for local residents or school children to remain indoors.

"As a precautionary measure we asked the local police for a short period to temporarily restrict access along the Bo'ness Road, which runs next to the perimeter of the site. As part of our site procedure, a full investigation into the cause is already underway."

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