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Information For the Public

Dear fellow citizens,

We want to inform you about the planned turnaround in our chemical plant in Záluží u Litvínova. It is a planned shutdown of production facilities to perform the necessary revisions and ensure safe operations. We believe the text below will provide you with as much information as possible as we are continuously implementing all safety and hygienic measures (situation as on 20 May 2020). We want to thank all the stakeholders – authorities, institutions, and organisations – which have been involved in the preparation and implementation of safety, hygienic and anti-epidemic measures.

 

 

Tomáš Herink,

Member of the Board of Directors of the Unipetrol Group​


 

1.     What does it mean that Unipetrol is part of the Czech Republic’s critical infrastructure?

·     The state must ensure uninterrupted distribution of the essential products and services for people to be able to live their fully-fledged everyday life. Healthcare services, electricity or fuel supplies may serve as an example.

·       Unipetrol is the only oil processing company and the only fuel producer in the Czech Republic. That is why Unipetrol’s production facilities are part of the critical infrastructure of the state, and their operations are governed by special statutory regulations.

·       That means that Unipetrol is a critical infrastructure entity within the meaning of Act No. 240/2000 Sb., on Crisis Management and Amendment to Other Laws (Crisis Act), as amended, and Point C.4 of Appendix to Government Regulation No. 432/2010 Sb., on Criteria Determining Critical Infrastructure Elements, as amended.

 

2.     What does a turnaround mean?

·       An operational turnaround in the chemical plant in Záluží u Litvínova is a planned interruption of operations. It involves the maintenance of production technologies on the site and preparation of all facilities and equipment for the next operating cycle.

·       The respective inspections and revisions of production facilities are imposed by laws and regulations. We cannot operate non-revised production facilities. We could endanger the safety of people living in the refinery’s vicinity and the safe functioning of the state. We are a part of the critical infrastructure of the Czech Republic, and we must ensure continuity of fuel supplies for the Czech market.

 

3.     Why is the turnaround performed?

·       Chemical production is a highly specific production process with maximum requirements for the functionality of technologies and overall safety.

·       To be continuously involved in the fuel supplies for the Czech market, Unipetrol’s production facilities must be subject not only to ongoing checks and inspections but also to regular maintenance. The crucial revision and maintenance work cannot be performed without ceasing the production.

·       Regular turnarounds of Unipetrol’s production facilities enable their maximum maintenance, thus ensuring the utmost safety and continuity of fuel supplies for the Czech Republic.

 

4.     Why cannot the turnaround be postponed? At what intervals must the turnaround be performed?

·       As we have said, we must perform inspections and revisions of production facilities to comply with laws and regulations. We cannot operate non-revised production facilities. We could endanger the safety of people living in the refinery’s vicinity and the safe functioning of the state. We are a part of the critical infrastructure of the Czech Republic, and it must ensure continuity of fuel supplies for the Czech market.

·       The turnaround must be performed at regular four-year intervals. The previous operational turnaround took place in 2016.

 

5.  Does Unipetrol react to the current situation in the Czech Republic?

·       As a company producing strategic products that are necessary for the full-fledged operation of the Czech Republic, we have undertaken all steps to ensure the safety and continuity of the supplies.

·       We are also fully aware of the current hygienic risks. That is why we have reduced the volume of the work by 60% following a thorough assessment of the situation and discussions with the competent state administration authorities.

·       We informed the Central Crisis Staff of this measure through the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

 

6.     What work will be performed during the turnaround?

·       The original scope of the maintenance work including 5,800 activities was more than halved to a necessary minimum. We are currently implementing about 2,300 activities to ensure the revision, maintenance and preparation of production technologies for the next four-year production cycle.

·       In this extent, we can meet the existing statutory requirements while minimising the risks associated with the potential spread of the infection. The health of our employees, employees of supplier companies and inhabitants of the neighbouring towns and vicinities is our priority, as well as the continued supplies of strategic products, especially fuels, on the Czech market.

·       The key projects include the repair of the furnace in the atmospheric oil distillation unit, replacement of underground pipes for cooling water in the partial oxidation production unit, and service repairs of large compressors in the steam cracker.

 

7.     How many people will be involved in the turnaround work?

·       With the reduced scope of the planned maintenance work, the volume of the scheduled activities will go down from 5,800 to about 2,300.

·       This reduction will also result in a lower number of people who will be involved in the turnaround performance from 2,800 to 1,260, i.e. by more than half.

·       The number of employees who are present on the site during the turnaround is being kept to the necessary minimum.

 

8.     Why does Unipetrol involve external companies in the turnaround?

·     Similarly to high-quality and safe renovations of a flat or a house, the turnaround at Unipetrol will be performed by expert companies specialising in such work and guaranteeing the required quality.

 

9.  Why do external companies use workers from abroad?

·       The maintenance of production facilities in the chemical industry requires specific expertise and skills. All professions and human capacities cannot be sufficiently covered in the Czech Republic, considering the complexity and requirements related to this project.

·       We use unique technologies owing to the character of the industry in the Czech Republic. However, there are not enough sources with the required qualifications and expertise in the Czech Republic.

·       To ensure the required quality and safety, we cooperate with renowned international companies specialising in the maintenance of production sites and facilities not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad.

·       In the modern globalised world, it is quite natural that specialised companies use their workers to perform the maintenance work at chemical plants in several countries. In the petrochemical industry, it is a commonplace also in any other European country to share sources in this kind of projects. It is only because the necessary number of local workers with the required qualifications is just not available.

 

10.  How many people will come from abroad?

·     The reduced scope of the turnaround resulted in a lower number of people coming from abroad. Instead of the planned 1,090 international workers, there are about 550 of them, especially Slovaks (270) and Poles (245). There are also 50 employees from Serbia who have been staying in the Czech Republic on a long-term basis, and 20 Romanians. A clear majority of them come from the countries where the current situation is comparable to ours. There will also be 20 more specialists from Germany, individuals from France, Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

·    External companies are responsible for ensuring that their workers coming to the Czech Republic are healthy and have the required health capacity to perform their job. They should not be in contact with COVID-19 patients or people who were ordered the quarantine 14 days before they arrive in the Czech Republic. They will complete the respective good health questionnaire.

11.  Is this the final number?

·       The current situation in Europe also impacts the availability of specialists at individual international companies that are also involved in the planned maintenance of our production facilities. That is why the composition of the international work teams may be partially changed. But these particular changes do not have any impact on the scope of our security and safety measures.

12.  How come these people can arrive in the Czech Republic from abroad in the current situation?

·     Unipetrol is a critical infrastructure entity within the meaning of Act No. 240/2000 sb., on Crisis Management and Amendment to Other Laws (Crisis Act), as amended, and Point C.4 of Appendix to Government Regulation No. 432/2010 Sb., on Criteria Determining Critical Infrastructure Elements, as amended. That is why Unipetrol is subject to an exception from the measures taken by the Government of the Czech Republic prohibiting the entry of foreign nationals to the Czech Republic. This means that Unipetrol can, based on a certificate, accept workers both from abroad and other parts of the Czech Republic to perform work on Unipetrol’s operating facilities.

 

13.  When will the employees of external companies come?

·       Workers from abroad are not coming or leaving all at once. They are coming and leaving gradually as they will be performing their assigned tasks according to the turnaround schedule.

 

14. How will you organise the arrival of workers from the external companies? -

·       We have negotiated a schedule with external companies, as well as the locations where individual worker groups will cross the border, including the routes of their transport.

·       The designated Unipetrol employees are expecting each group of international workers from external companies at an agreed border crossing. Once the rescue system teams check these people, Unipetrol employees receive a list of these workers. They instruct them about the current situation and potential changes compared to the initially sent information.

·       Workers of external companies will receive documents summing up the requirements regarding their behaviour during the quarantine in their mother tongue, and they will complete a good health questionnaire. The papers will also include a declaration about respecting the conditions of the state of emergency and quarantine conditions.

·       Their temperature will be measured. Their personal protective equipment will be checked and, if necessary, provided.

 

15.  Where are the workers of the supplier companies accommodated?

·       Most workers from external companies are accommodated at the Cascade Hotel in Most. An updated list of accommodation facilities is available in “Denní reporty” (Daily Reports), in the “Dokumenty ke stažení” section (Documents for downloads). This section can be found in the right column of this website.

·       We have a detailed crisis plan in case of suspected or proved occurrence of infection on the chemical site. It respects the current government regulations.

·       Accommodation for international workers is divided into three categories, depending on their health condition:

o   Category 1 – standard accommodation for healthy persons is provided by the external companies and coordinated with Unipetrol. Our primary effort is to accommodate only international workers in these facilities.

o   Category 2 – two back-up accommodation facilities (200 beds) in less frequented locations outside the cadastre of the towns of Litvínov and Most – provided by Unipetrol for workers of external companies to secure their quarantine.

o   Category 3 – back-up accommodation facility (40 beds) outside the public reach – provided by Unipetrol for workers of external companies to isolate those positively tested for COVID-19 or suspected of being infected.

o   Accommodation in Categories 2 and 3 will be designed exclusively for the 2020 Turnaround project.

o   Those accommodated in Category 2 and 3 facilities will receive supplies of food, drinks, and the necessary medications directly to these facilities.

 

16.  How do you test foreign workers and what are the results?

·       Preventive blanket testing for COVID-19 of all foreign workers involved in the turnaround is one of the anti-epidemic measures that we have adopted. Unipetrol covers all the costs associated with the testing.

·       The results of all foreign workers who have been tested so far (471) are negative, including the workers coming from the countries with a high risk of COVID-19 occurrence.

·       We continue the tests, and the foreign workers coming later will be tested, as well.

·       According to the decision of the Regional Public Health Authority of 28 April 2020, we are gradually terminating the mandatory quarantine of the groups of employees with negative tests.

·       Yet, the obligation to use exclusively own means of transport still applies. Together with the municipal police and the Police of the Czech Republic, we continue the checks of adherence to all measures inside and outside the premises.

17.  How do you secure the movements of external contractor workers on the site’s premises?

·       External contractor workers use a separate dedicated entrance to/exit from the premises.

·       We have restricted their movements only to the areas where the maintenance work is performed. We monitor and prevent any accumulation of people and blending of individual worker groups. We regularly disinfect all premises.

·       We measure the temperature of all workers entering the site. If there is any suspicion of infection, we will isolate them and activate all hygienic and security measures we have prepared for this situation.

 

18.  How do you see to the catering of external contractor workers within and outside the premises?

·       They receive special catering services directly on the site. The meals are distributed by the catering company in protective packaging.

·       There are also three shops operated outside the site: two shops are located at the entrance gates to the site that are reserved for external contractor workers. One shop is placed in front of the Cascade Hotel in Most.

 

19.  How come that the workers of the supplier companies are moving freely outside the Chempark premises?

·       The workers of the external companies must follow the same rules as are currently valid for everyone in the Czech Republic. That means they must use some mouth and nose protection; they must respect the restricted free movements and assemblies of more than two people.

·       According to the decision of the Regional Public Health Authority of 28 April 2020, we are gradually terminating the mandatory quarantine of the groups of employees with negative tests.

·       We have only limited possibilities to check the free movements of people outside Unipetrol’s premises. Still, we are working on measures to limit their movements as much as possible:

o   Transport between the accommodation facilities and the plant will be provided. The means of transport will be daily disinfected.

o   External supplier companies are not allowed to use public transport. This provision is part of the contracts.

o   The workers will be provided with special catering services on the site. Food will be distributed in protective packaging by a catering company.

o   We have also prepared three shops operated outside the site: two shops are located at the entrance gates to the site that are reserved for external contractor workers. One shop is placed in front of the Cascade Hotel in Most. At present, in line with the phasing out of mandatory quarantine, only one store is still open.

o   We are ensuring increased supervision in the places of accommodation for the workers of the external companies together with the respective towns (municipal police) and the Police of the Czech Republic. Representatives of the Police of the Czech Republic are members of our crisis staff.

 

20.  With whom do you coordinate the scope of the hygienic measures?

·       We consult the scope of the hygienic measures with the Regional Public Health Authority and Most Hospital. A Most Hospital representative is a member of Unipetrol’s crisis staff. The scope of our measures is in line with their recommendations. We have also hired two consultancies specialising in industrial security. Their experts are helping us prepare the safety and anti-epidemic measures.

 

21.   Are these measures sufficient?

·       Yes, they are. On 7 April, we received a decision from the Regional Public Health Authority that our measures are sufficient. If the foreign workers comply with them, they can perform their work in an enclosed site within the initial quarantine. Furthermore, according to the decision of the Regional Public Health Authority of 28 April 2020, we are gradually terminating the mandatory quarantine of the groups of employees with negative tests.

22.  Do you continue communicating with the representatives of the surrounding towns and municipalities during the turnaround?

·       We will continue communicating with the towns and municipalities and state administration. Every day, we will send regular reports to the towns and the Regional Public Health Authority. We will be checking compliance with all measures in cooperation with the towns.

 

23.  How do you monitor compliance with all measures?

·       Together with the towns where the external workers are accommodated, we have agreed increased supervision (municipal police, Police of the Czech Republic. Representatives of the Police of the Czech Republic are members of our crisis staff.

·       We provide night surveillance in selected accommodation facilities. Our motorised patrol performs random checks at other facilities.

 

24.  Do you have enough protective aids and hygienic equipment?

·       Yes, we have enough of the necessary protective equipment and disinfectants. Our employees and people working for the external companies will have the following protective equipment: protective shoes, protective gloves, protective goggles, protective suits and facemasks.

·       We distribute the protective equipment and disinfecting liquids to our employees, to the staff at Benzina filling stations, to local towns and municipalities, hospitals, integrated rescue system units, and non-profit organisations. Disinfection is made directly at our Unipetrol Centre of Research and Education (UniCRE) in Záluží u Litvínova. To date, we have delivered almost 5,000 litres of disinfectants to the towns of Most and Litvínov, Most Hospital, Ústí nad Labem Hospital, integrated rescue system units, and other organisations. Unipetrol has also purchased 500 protective suits for the Anaesthesiology and Resuscitation Ward of Most Hospital. Unipetrol Foundation, Benzina, Spolana, Paramo and other Unipetrol Group companies have joined the assistance, too. (link to press release)

·       Members of the Integrated Rescue System can use free snacks at the filling stations around the towns of Litvínov and Most (a small cup of coffee or a hot drink to help them and express thanks for their exacting job).​​​​

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Date of publication

Last update 22th May 2020
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