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Coryton oil refinery – the last day
THE last Coryton workers will leave their posts today as the 117-year-old plant ceases to be a refinery.
The final wave of redundancies means nearly 850 staff will have lost their jobs after administrators sold the plant to buyers who plan to turn it into a storage terminal for imported oil.
Campaigners, who have fought tirelessly to save the plant, off The Manorway, in Stanford-le-Hope, say it is the day they have dreaded.
Former worker Russ Ball said: “There’s a very raw feeling. It’s a battle we’ve lost and we’ve now got to face the reality of the situation and do what we can for the local community.
“We’re working closely with the new consortium and hopefully something positive can come out of it, but we are disappointed.”
Richard Howitt, Labour’s Euro MEP, took the fight to Brussels to try to save the plant. He said: “Friday is the day we never wanted to see.”
The turmoil for Coryton workers began when Petroplus, the Swiss-based company which owned the refinery, went into administration in January.
Administrator PriceWater-HouseCoopers was appointed and charged with trying to find a buyer for the plant.
Former Russian energy minister Igor Yusufov was behind the most viable bid to save Coryton as a refinery, but in June a deal was struck with a consortium led by the Vopak energy firm, which will turn it into a storage facility.
Vopak will soon begin making changes to the refinery site, but it is understood the circumstances surrounding the deal are being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading.
Workers and union members say the administrator, the Government and Petroplus have failed to address unanswered questions about Coryton’s collapse.
Mr Ball hopes the truth will come out. He said: “We’re gutted for the workers and we’re not going to give up on a public inquiry, although as we’ve seen with Hillsborough, these things can take years.
“I’ve received an e-mail in the last few days that the Office of Fair Trading is looking into it – that’s something which might bring about a result.”
It is thought Coryton’s closure could cost the local economy £100million.