About 800 workers were facing the dole queue, the refinery workers feared a similar fate, and the town, which is economically dependent on the largest industrial site in Scotland, faced a grim future.
Expert analysis predicted closure would have had the same economic impact as Ravenscraig did on Lanarkshire 20 years ago, an act that sees Motherwell and surrounding towns still suffering the effects.
So there is little wonder politicians were desperate to be seen to be acting.
But the reality is, when it comes to a company such as Ineos, the power and influence of the Government is somewhere between limited and non-existent.
If Ineos and its owner JimRatcliffe didn’t get its own way it was going to close the operation, so everyone else had to fall in line.
First Minister Alex Salmond, rightly, said he was doing all he could to help keep it open, and few would doubt that. But short of writing a cheque to take it over – assuming the firm would sell – Government intervention is limited.
Mr Salmond said government can’t resolve disputes and he is right. He should also state it can’t prevent closures. We only have to look at Diageo in Kilmarnock and Glasgow for evidence.
Despite Mr Salmond’s protestations, the firm shut the bottling plant in Ayrshire and distillery in Port Dundas, Glasgow, and with it the loss of nearly 1000 jobs.
Diageo and Ineos are multi-national firms able to act as they please and can show a total disregard for the impact their decisions have on workers, families and entire towns.
Sadly, the workers are of no more consequence to the management thanthe flaming pipeworks that light up the Firth of Forth.
It is another part of the infrastructure of the production process and a balance sheet entry under costs.
The reason behind the closure threat at Grangemouth is as opaque as the financial status of the plant.
The firm reports losses of £10million a month but other reports point to a profit of £7m a year.
Both raise questions:
* Will a three-year pay freeze and pension change for 800 workers save £10m a month and make it viable?
* Were they really going to close a profit-making enterprise?
* Or was management conveniently able to contort a dispute about a union official into something else and blame the shutdown and closure on union obstinacy?
Either way, in the absence of ensuring better employment legislation and pension protection, the best Government can hope for is it is afforded the opportunity to be seen to act and then try to claim some credit .