Ineos’s Dire Global Environmental Safety Record

As Ineos pushes forward in its attempts to dominate the UK’s troubled shale gas industry, Food and Water Europe have published a new issue brief on the chemical giant’s multitude of failures, including a catalogue of health and safety breaches, pollution incidents and chemical leaks.

Recently named one of Scotland’s top polluters, petrochemicals conglomerate INEOS now has 71 manufacturing plants across the globe, with over 17,000 workers.

Ineos is also lacking in a clean record in their treatment of workers. Disputes amongst the company and their staff in the UK are well documented, with rows over pensions and workers’ rights over the years.

Unite’s Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, slammed Ineos over broken-down pay talks between the company and its Grangemouth workers in April this year. Rafferty spoke of Ineos’s:

“Incredibly foolish attempt to undermine the democratic rights of Grangemouth workers…to squeeze every last bit of profit out of their jobs, wages, and conditions.”

Now the largest PEDL (Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence) holders in the UK, Ineos’s safety and environmental track record is a legion of failures and violations on a colossal scale.

 Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, told Talk Fracking:

“From towering chemical fires in Germany to toxic air pollution in Scotland and plastic pellets littering our oceans, Ineos’s safety record is appalling.

“The company is also a climate disaster waiting to happen—benefiting from fracking in the U.S. while planning to bring the dangerous practice to the United Kingdom. This company’s plans have been met with a passionate, committed grassroots movement, and political leaders are beginning to understand that the right response to fracking is to stop it before it starts.”

CEO, Jim Ratcliffe, seemingly maintains an air of dismissive arrogance in the gravity of failure over Ineos’s environmental standards. In a BBC interview, Ratcliffe stated:

“The chemical industry is extremely good at managing environmental issues and safety issues, but it is not perfect. It is like a puncture in your car – occasionally you get a puncture and occasionally we have an accident in chemicals.”

But we’re not just talking the odd incident here. There is consistent evidence that Ineos has a solid background in safety violations. A selection of the company’s incidents include:

– 56 tonnes of vinyl chloride released into the air in 2011, falling on homes and gardens, which resulted in a £10,000 fine.

– Hydrogen cyanide leak in Port Lavaca, Texas led to the death of a worker and to £114,000 fine in 2015.

– Port of Runcorn ChlorVinyls facility was found guilty of releasing caustic soda into the Manchester Ship Canal. The company was ordered to pay a fine of  £166,650, in March 2016.

– Discharge of 17 tonnes of heavy metals into the water, including more than 1,000 kilograms of lead, and released more than 63 tonnes of hydrogen cyanide into the air and nearly 1.4 tonnes of cyanide compounds into the water from 2011 to 2015.

– A Texan facility spilled 7.5 litres of highly toxic chemical acetone cyanohydrin, killing thousands of fish in 2009.

– Grangemouth complex partially evacuated after ethylene gas leaked from a pipeline at Kinneil Gas plant. Local roads were closed and school children kept inside, police asked schools to keep children inside (the second gas leak in three years that forced school children to remain indoors).

And now Ineos want to become supreme frack masters in the UK, where they haven’t yet drilled a producing oil or gas well?

Read the full report from Food and Water Europe here.