Canadian Plastics

Ineos Styrolution to close styrene production site in Sarnia, Ontario

Canadian Plastics   

Canadian Plastics Materials

The plant's use of benzene feedstock has been the focus of recent criticism.

Photo Credit: Ineos Styrolution

Germany-based styrenic material supplier Ineos Styrolution has announced that it will permanently close its styrene monomer production site in Sarnia, Ontario, by June 2026.

“This difficult business decision to permanently close our Sarnia site was made following a lengthy evaluation process and is based on the economics of the facility within a wider industry context,” company CEO Steve Harrington said in a June 11 statement. “The long-term prospects for the Sarnia site have worsened to the point that it is no longer an economically viable operating asset.”

The statement noted that the Sarnia site is currently shut down due to recent orders from regulatory authorities that forced Ineos to declare force majeure. Specifically, the company started to shut down its operation on April 20, days after some members of neighbouring Aamjiwnaang First Nation allege that they were treated in hospital for benzene exposure. The provincial government then suspended an approval the company needed to restart on May 1 and told the company it needs to significantly reduce benzene emissions to get the suspension lifted. Benzene is a byproduct of fuel refining that Ineos uses to produce its styrene.

“We are currently assessing what is required to restart the site—a process that could take approximately six months,” the June 11 statement said.

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“Our decision to permanently close the Sarnia site by June 2026 is irrespective of the current situation,” the statement continued. “The economic reality is that we have made significant investments in the Sarnia site for many years to ensure safe and reliable operations. 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 June 11 statement reiterated that Ineos “is fully committed to the styrenics business and will continue to serve customers across the globe.”

The Sarnia styrene facility was built by the Canadian Polymer Crown company in 1943. Over the years, the site continued to expand its footprint under different ownership structures to ultimately be wholly owned by Ineos in 2014. The site has a nameplate capacity of 430kta of styrene monomer and employs about 80 full-time workers and a large number of contractors.

Ineos is a leading global supplier of styrenic materials, including polystyrene and ABS. The firm employs more than 3,000 and has annual sales of around US$7 billion.

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