Russian EMERCOM plans to stop Transammiak’s activity for major ecological violations

Voronezh district branch of the Russia’s Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) stated that it will fight to suspend the activity of Transammiak if it would be found guilty of ecological disaster connected with ammonia pipeline leakage occured this summer in Ternovo district.

Closing of ammonia pipeline will automatically mean the stop of Togliattiazot plant which would have to find the new ways to distribute its production. Besides on Togliattiazot there are no significant storage capacity, so it would have to decrease production volumes.

EMERCOM officials made the preliminary check after the incident and revealed nine violations in the field of population and territories protection from emergency situations of natural and man-made disasters. The company did not hold, and did not plan to perform and staff exercises and command post exercises to simulate the actions in case of emergency. Scheduled for May 2015 special tactical exercises with participation of rescuers were simply ignored by the company.

Emergency action plan available at the enterprise demanded major improvements, and the composition, structure and equipment of emergency rescue units at “Transammiak” have not been agreed with EMERCOM of Russia in the Voronezh region. In addition, the hazardous facility lacked the mandatory direct dial telephone with the Regional Centre for Crisis Management, and the pair of local alarm system with municipalities.

But most importantly, the bypass ammonia units were not equipped with the mandatory monitoring system (SMIS). Had the leak occur — and the length of the tube “Transammiak” in the Voronezh region is almost 342 km — no one in the Ministry of Emergency Situations would know of that fact.

On September, 30 the Investigative Committie of the Russian Federation in the Voronezh region began its investigation into the leak of ammonia and gave this preliminary estimates. The costs of ammonia pipeline leakage which occurred on June, 21 in Ternovo district of Russia equaling to 856,2 mln. roubles. The amount of damage caused to the fields, is not less than 855 mln. rubles, while the damage to the river Sukhoi Karachan, where thousands of fishes were killed by the accident is around 1.2 mln. rubles.

EMERCOM has been forced to actively act to suspend the activity of Transammiak with the request to Ministry if Industry and Federal Ecology Service which was signed by governor of Voronezh region Alexey Gordeev as it found out that for the four months which passed since the leakage in Ternovo occured, the company has not illiminated three major violations — direct connection line with local EMERCOM, no pairing notification systems, and the lack of SMIS bypass nodes on ammonia pipeline.

Specialists of EMERCOM in their conclusion documents on danger of Transammiak ammonia pipeline noted that during an accident on the linear section of the pipeline the average weight of leakage can be up to 209 tons, at the transfer station – up to 50 tons, at the pumping station – up to 10 tons, in the area of chemical contamination could get up to 45 000 citizen.

The ammonia pipeline Togliatti – Odessa where occurred the incident is under control of the chemical enterprise Togliattiazot located in the Samara region. It is a real giant in the production of ammonia and other chemical products. The ammonia pipeline was constructed during the Soviet times. Its length – 2195 km, half of which passes through the territory of Russia, and the other half – the territory of Ukraine. It is noteworthy that earlier the Russian part of the ammonia pipeline currently operated by Transammiak were directly owned by Togliattiazot. However, a few years ago Transammiak was transferred to offshore shell.

TogliattiAzot is by far the most technologically backward domestic agrochemical manufacturer in the industry, working only by 2/3 of its capacity, but a strong lead in the number of violations in the field of environmental, industrial safety and labor protection. Over the past four years Rostekhnadzor found hundreds of serious violations in the company: in 2011 – 600, in 2012 – 200, in 2013 – 300 more violations. The main shareholders and owners of Togliattiazot are Vladimir and Sergei Makhlai and Swiss businessman Andreas Zivy. At the moment they are arrested in absentia in a criminal case of fraud on a large scale in the sale of products for export. The Makhlai family and Andreas Zivy are in the federal and international wanted lists, same as the former CEO of the company Evgeny Korolev.