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Client dismisses Milford Haven poison gas claims

NEWS - Complaints about site are attempt to ditch blue book, says ExxonMobil

BOSSES behind a huge gas plant being built in Wales have dismissed site workers' claims they are being poisoned by fumes from construction equipment.

Workers said the air on the scheme at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, has been choked with fumes pumped out by the specialist plant needed to erect the giant gas tanks.

One worker said: 'The conditions are atrocious and the attitude of management stinks.

'Workers are becoming ill due to the conditions they are working in.

Safety is being jeopardised for productivity and the wages must be the lowest in the UK.' Construction is being managed by engineering specialist Chicago Bridge & Iron John Brown. The worker added: 'The gas tanks are each the size of the Royal Albert Hall but the air inside is blue.' But a spokesman for the joint venture client, oil firms ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum, said the comments were mischief-making.

The spokesman said the claims were an attempt to negotiate a pay deal outside the blue book agreement, which covers engineering construction schemes.

He added: 'All the stuff about safety really isn't an issue. This is about them wanting out of the Naeci pay agreement.

'Nearly everyone to a man voted against it here, as the abundance of work makes them think they could get a better deal outside it.

'Now I think they are trying to use safety as a way of breaking that agreement.

'There is absolutely nothing wrong with the air. We had an air quality firm in and it found that there was no problem. It has always been within the limits. If people are still worried there's additional personal protection equipment available.' When finished, the South Hook plant will be the largest liquefied natural gas import plant in the world and will supply 20 per cent of the UK's total gas requirement.

It is being built to supplement the depleting natural gas supplies in the North Sea.

Work started in Decembe r 2004 and should be completed in October 2007.

The GMB union was unavailable for comment.