On first sight it is a frightening, ugly complex belching steam into the atmosphere. A grim place, of grey cooling towers and glowing concrete buildings, glowering down on a small community.
But to its 2500 staff and contractors Grangemouth oil refinery represents their livelihood. Local people are still reeling from the shock of finding out that it may soon no longer support them and their families.
"Considering we were getting bonuses last year and the place was making money, the first I heard it was in financial distress was a couple of weeks ago," explains Gavin Dobson, 29, a mechanical technician at the plant.
He started out as an apprentice 14 years ago and hoped he had a job for life. Now, he and his colleagues are trapped in an uncertain position, and Dobson still awaits the pack containing details of the new contract conditions he may have to sign to keep his job.
He said: "I have a family to look after, we don't know what is happening. They could pay us off from January with one week's redundancy if they force these contract changes through."
The sprawling plant processes around 80% of Scotland's oil, taking up to 210,000 barrels of it every day.
Ian Proudlove has worked as a process operator at the refinery for 25 years, supporting his wife and two sons, one of whom followed him into the plant and now also faces career uncertainty. Proudlove said: "We are angry, we are concerned, we are saddened by this. This site we believe is our site - it's the community's site, and we urge the company to consider bringing the plants back up and getting back to normal production again.
"We want this site to be successful and profitable, and to be able to provide jobs and security for the community and our kids and our kids' kids."
Outside the plant, a bunch of workers gather in high-visibility work clothes, holding placards bearing the Unite union's colours. Passing drivers sound their horns in a show of support.
It is not just the 1400 permanent staff who will lose out if a deal cannot be struck between the union and the owners. On the small, rundown high street, shop owners who are already coping with the fallout from the economic downturn and the rise in internet shopping, now live in fear of hearing the bell toll. "I dread to think what will happen to this town if the plant closes down. It'll be a ghost town," says
Isobell Bolger, a retired teacher working at a pop-up charity shop in the town. The 61-year-old added: "People are scared about what is going to happen to their community. If the plant closes down, we'll have shops closing, house prices going down ... there will be huge implications."
George Burden, the 39-year-old owner of Pitstop Auto Spares, said he could face a 10% drop in sales if the refinery closed. Many of his customers are employed at the plant where his own father worked for many years. Burden said: "Business is hard enough at the moment, without losing more sales."
The town has seen strikes at the plant before. In 2008, a row over pensions led to a walkout by more than 1200 workers. Many local people, including councillor David Balfour, believe a resolution will be found.
"We have been here before," he said. "I am quite sure there is a good chance we will get a resolution. There is just too much at stake to let it go."
But others are more fearful. Mike Munroe, 65, from Bo'ness, worked at the plant for 27 years until 2003, and for much of that time he was vice-convener of what was then called the Transport and General Workers Union. He said the workers were now facing one of the most difficult situations he had ever seen.
"We managed to get the terms and conditions all agreed amicably over the 25 years I was vice-convener," said Munroe. "We never had to strike or even ban overtime - we always managed to talk sensibly with each other. But I believe now it is about dealing with people who aren't prepared to talk, they just want to have their own way.
"If they close this, the community is finished. The shops are struggling to survive as it is, it is not just the workers, it is all the service industries that supply the plant and the contractors.
"Probably in every street of every town round here, somebody works either directly or indirectly at the plant."
It is a sobering thought for 23-year-old Donald Morrison who has just finished his four-year apprenticeship at the refinery.
Still living at home with his parents, he is in a better situation that most. But, if the plant closes, he will have to rethink his career and faces difficult choices, including relocation.
He said: "If the plant shuts down I'll need to look elsewhere. I could maybe try and go up to the North Sea or offshore or somewhere else abroad ... I don't know."
Additional reporting by Karen Kelly