Gas leak sparks safety fears at Grangemouth refinery

Fire engines, ambulances and police were called out to the Ineos plant in Grangemouth on Tuesday after a butane gas leak was detected on the south side of the site. Picture: Michael Gillen (141939S)
Fire engines, ambulances and police were called out to the Ineos plant in Grangemouth on Tuesday after a butane gas leak was detected on the south side of the site. Picture: Michael Gillen (141939S)

A union has questioned safety measures at the Ineos 
petrochemical plant in Grangemouth in the wake of a gas leak there this week.

Butane gas was found to be leaking from a small vessel on the south side of the site on Tuesday morning.

Police were asked to close Bo’ness Road, while Falkirk Council instructed schools nearby to keep children indoors with the windows closed for a short period as a precaution as fire engines and ambulances attended the incident.

There were no injuries and Ineos insists there was no risk to the wider public.

But Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary of Unite the Union, said the incident cannot be shrugged off as “minor”.

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.”

Mr Rafferty also said cuts at the site following a high profile industrial dispute were a cause for concern in terms of safety.

He added: “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.”

Ineos said safety is its top priority and its record this year has been “exceptional” for the chemicals business.

A spokesman said: “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 safety response procedures worked well, and the on-site incident was resolved quickly and thoroughly.

“As part of our site procedure, a full investigation into the cause is already underway,” he added.