550 Workers Lose Jobs in Valero's Surprise Shutdown

Valero is permanently closing its Delaware oil refinery, where 550 workers will lose their jobs.

Workers said they stunned Friday when they showed up for work and found state police surrounding the plant. They were told to go home, that the plant was shutting down, permanently.

"We have spent the last year diligently trying to avoid this situation," CEO Bill Klesse said in press release on the company's Web site.

Valero is the country's largest independent oil refinery. The company said Friday it must close the Delaware City refinery because of poor economic conditions.

Demand for fuel has been falling for some time and the recession has made things worse, squeezing profit margins for companies like Valero. The company said it tried, but failed to find a buyer.

"The decision to permanently close the Delaware City refinery was a very difficult one," said Klesse.

Negotiations with the refinery's unions on severance package will begin immediately.

"We realize that the decision to close the refinery affects many employees, their families, and the community. We are thankful to our employees for their service, and we will treat them fairly during this difficult period," Klesse said.

The state says it will try to help those who are losing jobs.

Valero cut 150 jobs at the refinery in September.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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