How Rostekhnadzor doesn’t believe itself

The watchdog managed to rule two opposite decisions about the results of an inspection

Kazanorgsintez has faced an unexpected change of mood of Russia’s Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service (Rostekhnadzor). The service inspected pyrolysis furnaces that were recently built by the enterprise. There weren’t found violations on the spot, about which the inspectors drew up a report. However, two months later, Rostekhnadzor suddenly changed its mind and provided another report that already contained remarks. Moreover, the second report was based on decisions of the same inspection, and the same people signed it. Rostekhnadzor explained that not the unit but design documentation of related communications, which the inspectors didn’t find, raised questions. However, it turned out in the court that all documents were available, but the service hadn’t asked about them in the last three years.

Claims about claims

The Court of Arbitration of the Republic of Tatarstan heard a claim of Kazanorgsintez PJSC about the Volga office of Rostekhnadzor in the Republic of Tatarstan on 6 February. The complaint was made because the service issued two mutually exclusive reports after inspecting a construction site of Kazanorgsintez. According to representatives of the enterprise, Kazanorgsintez faced the strange situation last autumn.

Kazanorgsintez PJSC completed the construction of four new pyrolysis furnaces in its ethylene plant as early as late 2018. The modern furnaces were to replace ten obsolete ones. The new equipment allowed not only increasing the effectiveness of the plant but also reducing the environmental impact. Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan Aleksey Pesoshin and Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin launched the site and looked it over during performance testing. The site was fully ready by 17 July 2019.

Rostekhnadzor’s employees didn’t detect any remarks during the inspection of Kazanorgsintez’s site. Photo: Kazanorgsintez PJSC press service

To obtain a report on conformity (RoC) for the site built according to established norms and requirements, the enterprise resorted to Rostekhnadzor for inspection. On 30 August, specialists of the service evaluated the readiness of the site and the conformity of the site whose construction had finished with requirements of the technical regulation and design documentation and it had been equipped with meters.

“Rostekhnadzor’s employees didn’t detect any remarks during the inspection, which was fixed in the report on the inspection signed by the specialists of the service who looked the construction site over,” explains Leysyan Galimova, the head of the Legal Department at Kazanorgsintez PJSC.

Rostekhnadzor’s sleight of hand

After obtaining the document, on 9 September, Kazanorgsintez turned to Rostekhnadzor to receive the RoC. In accordance with current legislation, the Volga office of Rostekhnadzor is obliged to either issue the report or deny its issue in written form during 10 working days after receiving a petition to obtain an RoC. However, the service didn’t reply to the enterprise during this term. Kazanorgsintez had to turn to Rostekhnadzor twice. An order on cancellation of the report on inspection of the construction site, which took place on 30 August, was received only on 5 November. The enterprise says they were surprised at such a message because legislation simply doesn’t have such a procedure.

Rostekhnadzor sent a new report on the inspection, but as of 25 October. Photo: блог-инженера.рф

Also, Rostekhnadzor sent a new report on the inspection, but as of 25 October. However, the service didn’t carry out the second inspection. The same employees who evaluated the readiness of the site signed the report, but this time the document contained remarks and an order to rectify violations. So after one inspection, the state organ issued two inspection reports with opposite content at once.

Kazanorgsintez considered the actions of Rostekhnadzor illegal and appealed to the Court of Arbitration of the Republic of Tatarstan on 11 November last year. On 25 November, the company also sent a claim about the revocation of results of the inspection as of 25 October 2019 to the Court of Arbitration.

Complaints about neighbouring utility lines, not the site

Rostekhnadzor decided not to comment on its “deafness” regarding the first two addresses of Kazanorgsintez. But a representative of the service explained that his colleagues’ mood suddenly changed because of new data that the commission didn’t take into consideration when signing the report as of 30 August. As Rostekhnadzor assumes, the design documentation didn’t contain calculations of nine pipelines — lines that are adjacent to the site.

“They expanded the capacities of furnaces but didn’t show the section from the furnaces to the main pipeline in the design documentation, while the resource is used by another plant. It might have elbow protrusions, gate valves, common valves. The absence of information about this in the design documentation was the foundation for Rostekhnadzor to issue an order to cancel the report as of 30 August because it isn’t allowed to assume the responsibility, grant the RoC to what not only doesn’t correspondent to the design documentation but also wasn’t done as it should be,” a jurist of Rostekhnadzor said during the hearing.

During the trial, the representative of Rostekhnadzor even tried to shift the responsibility for possible consequences to the court in case Kazanorgsintez’s claim was settled.

Why didn’t Rostekhnadzor see the documents? And where are experts?

However, the situation with the absent documents settled right there, in the courtroom. Olga Cherenkova who represented interests of Kazanorgsintez said that the design documentation had all necessary calculations. Moreover, all the design documentation for this site obtained the approval of the State Expert Review of the Russian Federation as early as 2017. Kazanorgsintez’s representative immediately provided the court with the documents. Representatives of the design organisation who came to the court were also ready to demonstrate the calculations in the documentation.

Only Rostekhnadzor’s experts didn’t ask about them and never requested them from the enterprise during three years of the construction, which had 11 inspections. However, Cherenkova reminded that Rostekhnadzor’s inspectors weren’t obliged in general to examine the constructed facility’s design documentation.

Rostekhnadzor’s experts never asked for the calculations that prompted questions from the judge of the Court of Arbitration of the Republic of Tatarstan over three years of the construction. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Judge Natalya Bredikhina who conducted the trial also had questions about confused explanations of the jurist of Rostekhnadzor.

“The conformity of works of the design documentation, not the design documentation itself, is the subject of the inspection. Where is the non-conformity of the works done?” the judge specified.

“We are talking about relations that lead to obtaining an RoC,” the representative of Rostekhnadzor began from afar. “If an RoC is granted without remarks, but they don’t have the right to turn it on, supply feedstock, turn on the remote control to begin the conversion. Design documentation is examined by state construction inspection.”

The judge didn’t receive a clear answer to the question about the non-compliance of the works done with the design documentation, she clarified why questions about the documentation arose later when the site was fully ready. Had the experts of the service seen the design documentation in general if they remembered about the calculations of pipelines only then?

“Do you think that the information must be detected only after the construction ends?” the judge clarified.

Rostekhnadzor’s jurist didn’t manage to give an accurate answer, but judge Bredikhina didn’t listen to the assumptions and guesses and offered to listen to the experts who carried out the inspection. However, it wasn’t possible to do this on the same day: none of the members of the commission appeared in the courtroom. The representative of the service explained they were absent because of sickness.

The judge asked the head of the expert commission of Rostekhnadzor who signed the contradictory reports as of 30 August and 25 October to compulsorily come to hear the reason for the misunderstandings first-hand.

By Margarita Tsvetkova