INEOS Styrolution. April 29, 2024. (Photo by Natalia Vega)INEOS Styrolution. April 29, 2024. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

BREAKING: INEOS Styrolution closing Sarnia site

INEOS Styrolution has announced its decision to permanently close its styrene monomer production site on Tashmoo Avenue in Sarnia by June 2026.

The site has been under heavy scrutiny over the past couple of months since Aamjiwnaang First Nation reported elevated levels of benzene, which made residents feel ill on April 16.

In a media release issued on Tuesday, CEO Steve Harrington said the difficult decision to shutter the facility was made following a lengthy evaluation process.

"The long-term prospects for the Sarnia site have worsened to the point that it is no longer an economically viable operating asset,” said Harrington. “The production site in Sarnia is currently shut down due to recent orders from regulatory authorities that forced us to declare force majeure. We are currently assessing what is required to restart the site — a process that could take approximately six months.”

Ontario suspended the company's Environmental Compliance Approval in early May and ordered the site to suspend its production operations.

INEOS Styrolution said it would appeal sanctions placed on its facility, however, it was still required to comply with the requirements set out by the province.

Ontario set out regulations for INEOS Styrolution on May 31, limiting the discharge of benzene so it could not exceed 90 micrograms per cubic metre averaged over any one-hour period. Unofficial data collected at Aamjiwnaang's Sportscenter Station, as specified on the Clean Air Sarnia and Area website on April 25, said 191.3 µg/m3 of benzene was recorded.

The federal government also placed strict benzene pollution controls on all Sarnia petrochemical companies. Benzene is linked to a wide range of health effects, including cancer.

“The economic reality is that we have made significant investments in the Sarnia site for many years to ensure safe and reliable operations," Harrington said. "Additional large investments that are unrelated to the potential costs of restarting operations would be necessary in the near future. Such investments would be economically impractical given today’s challenging industry environment.”

The Sarnia site employs 80 people and "a large number" of contractors.

Harrington said moving forward, the company will work closely with all necessary parties to ensure a complete and orderly wind-down and a permanent closure of the Sarnia site.

Sarnia News Today has reached out to INEOS Styrolution and Aamjiwnaang First Nation Chief Chris Plain for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

More information will be added as it becomes available.

-With files from Melanie Irwin, Stephanie Chaves, and Eric Thompson

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