THE close-knit Kurnell community of was left reeling last week when Caltex announced it will close the peninsula's refinery in the next two years, although some residents have found a silver lining.
Caltex managing director Julian Segal announced the closure last Thursday, saying the refinery was too old to compete with more modern Asian facilities.
He said the refinery would be converted into a fuel import hub.
The decision is expected to affect 330 of the refinery's 430 employees as well as 300 contractors.
The closure was met with an outraged response from the Australian Workers Union (AWU), but Kurnell residents' reaction was mixed.
Steve and Effies takeaway owner Stephanie Savidis said while it was disappointing it would result in less pollution on the peninsula.
"There are advantages and disadvantages," Ms Savidis said.
"It is disappointing, but there will be cleaner air without all that dust and pollution."
Silver Beach Realty licensee Allan Shorten was euphoric at the news.
"It is terrific for the locals here, it is like a sea change," Mr Shorten said.
"This will have a marked effect on the real estate values of the area."
Many residents, including Nick Boes, have had a long-term connection to the plant.
Mr Boes has lived in Kurnell for 54 years, and for 20 of those he worked at the refinery.
Today both his sons are employed there either directly or indirectly, while his grandson is completing an apprenticeship at the plant.
However, despite the closure's direct impact on his family, Mr Boes said he was philosophical.
"This really was expected; it was inevitable, but it is always sad," he said.
AWU head delegate at the plant Graeme Grace said at least 500 of the 700 workers at the refinery lived in Sutherland Shire.
Mr Grace, a refinery operator at the facility for 22 years, told the Leader the closure would have a huge economic effect.
"It's going to devastate the shire," He said.
"Most of the workers here are from the shire, particularly the outer suburbs such as Engadine."
Sutherland Shire mayor Carol Provan said it was a "very sad day" for the shire.
"It is concerning for our shire and for the families who are now seeking work," Cr Provan said.
The mood inside Caltex’s oil refinery
at Kurnell is one of ‘‘bitter disappointment’’, according to operator Adam Bryan.
Mr Bryan, of Heathcote, said while it was a relief to have some certainty about the fate of the plant, many workers, including him, were now uncertain about their future.
‘‘Everyone was hoping to keep it running,’’ Mr Bryan said. ‘‘Each time [Caltex] said anything to us up until the final decision, they were saying that they were likely to press on with Kurnell.’’
Mr Bryan, who has been at the refinery for seven years, said he was hoping to retrain for another industry, or perhaps move interstate to find work once the refinery wound down.
‘‘But for a lot of guys here for 15 or 20 years who are in their 50s it is going to be hard to find a job. A lot of guys are uncertain about what to do next,’’ Mr Bryan said.
He said with over 80 per cent of Caltex’s 730 employees living in the shire, the closure would have a ‘‘massive’’ impact on the area.
What do you think about the closure of the refinery?