Green innovations: how Nizhnekamskneftekhim cares about environmental improvement

The flagship of Tatarstan petrochemistry is completing the fourth environmental programme this year — one of the biggest and illustrative ones in the history of the enterprise. Over six years, since 2014, the petrochemists have spent about 29 billion rubles, taken over 420 measures on environmental protection. Residents of Nizhnekamsk who have stopped complaining about unpleasant smells to environmental protection agencies have noticed a significant improvement too. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report how the backbone enterprise Nizhnekamskneftekhim has managed to reduce the manmade load and use natural resources in a more rational way.

Environmental monitoring 24/7

Nizhnekamskneftekhim has state-of-the-art technologies to monitor the environment. Eco-monitoring posts allowing tracking the quality of the atmosphere on the border of the sanitary and protection zone, gas treatment units, biological treatment units are no less important here.

“Nizhnekamskneftekhim has had an automated air control system since 2008. There are five posts in total. The first post appeared on the border of the first industrial site. In 2013, we installed the fifth additional post to control the biological treatment facilities,” Andrey Rubezhov, vice chief engineer in environmental protection at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC said.

Precise devices installed inside the posts send information about 20 different indicators to the central control service of the enterprise: composition of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, nitrogen, sulphur compounds, physical factors — еру direction, speed of the wind, air temperature and others. In general dispatchers, ecologists have a big picture of the state of the air on the screen.

“Both of our ecological laboratories have been certified. Few enterprises can boast about it. Requirements for certified laboratories constantly tighten, become stricter. The laboratories have to meet at least 94 criteria. Special attention is paid to the qualification of the staff, presence of certified measurement methods, laboratory equipment, consumables and rooms,” the vice chief engineer in environmental protection noted.

Unique mobile eco-post

Last year, the petrochemists became more mobile in air monitoring after purchasing a mobile ecological post. It is equipped with a full set of necessary equipment. It is air pollution sensors, chromotographs, dust pollution sensors, a meteorological set, automated information collection and processing system, illumination, ventilation and air conditioner. The system can check the concentration and presence of polluting substances in the atmosphere in 20 indicators including aromatic and saturated hydrocarbons, suspended substances, phenol, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide and many others. In 2019, the mobile mini-lab carried out over 16,500 measurements.

The petrochemists became more mobile in air monitoring after purchasing a mobile ecological post. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

“We can certainly say that it is one of the modern and advanced units existing nowadays. It allows quickly detecting polluting sources. I want to note that we send the tests to supervisory bodies of Nizhnekamsk and Kazan. There was signed an agreement with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Tatarstan to daily send them results of the automated air pollution control posts,” Andrey Rubezhov stressed.

Sewage under control

Three control posts on the industrial site are equipped with automated means of sewage quality measurement for pH and total organic carbon. The information from the automated measurement systems is sent to the automated record system of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.

“We installed automated gas contamination control sensors in sewage in the wells during major repairs, the information is sent to the corporate control system. When they turn on, representatives of interested services arrive according to a created procedure,” shared Andrey Rubezhov, vice chief engineer in environmental protection at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.

With care about nature

Nizhnekamskneftekhim has always paid attention to environmental protection. Environmental protection measures bear fruits: commodity output has doubled since 2001, while emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere have reduced by 54%.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim has always paid attention to environmental protection. Photo: Maksim Platonov

They manage to achieve such results due to the use of advanced technologies, upgrade and modernisation of existing manufacturing equipment, rational use of natural resources, optimisation of production regimes and a stricter manufacturing discipline.

The measures taken within the fourth environmental programme based on modern technologies, rational use of natural resources and optimisation of production regimes allowed to improve environmental efficiency and reduce specific costs from 2014 to 2019: feedstock by 9,7%, water for production by 10,2%, emissions into the atmosphere by 18,2%, thermal energy consumption by 6,2%.

“A big reconstruction of biological treatment facilities had ended where the latest technologies and advanced equipment were installed. A new industrial sewage and stormwater tank 15 km long was built,” Andrey Rubezhov, vice chief engineer in environmental protection at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC said. He added that the whole sewage treatment process was completely hermetic, while the new tank provided reliability of the sewage transportation system to the BTF.

Closed pre-aerators of the BTF allow blowing away and catching unpleasant chemical smells that are emitted when sewage is treated, while the use of the latest biofilters prevents air pollution and disinfects the gaseous phase in the pre-aerators and basins.

As a result of the reconstruction of mechanical treatment unit in the BTF, there was an improvement in such indicators as chemical oxygen absorption (by 18%), biological oxygen absorption (40%), phosphates reduced by 22%, dry residue did by 20%, manganese (40%), ammonium ion, zinc, chrome, aluminium (by over 60%).

The reconstruction of the Biological Treatment Facilities became a real gift for all residents of Nizhnekamsk. The citizens haven’t noted smells in the air since last autumn. The BTF totally proved their efficiency.

The reconstruction of the Biological Treatment Facilities became a real gift for all residents of Nizhnekamsk. The citizens haven’t noted smells in the air since last autumn. Photo: realnoevremya.ru

This year Nizhnekamskneftekhim will launch a new industrial tank connecting the industrial zone and the BTF. It is 15 km long. It will also allow decreasing the negative environmental impact.

Borders fixed

Another important project implemented by Nizhnekamskneftekhim in 2019 is on epidemiological legislation to determine a zone with a special term of use of the territory. In other words, the enterprise received a decision to determine a sanitary and protection zone for groups of enterprises (plants).

This will provide a due safety level of the residents of the city and district when the company’s facilities are used, which means that air pollution will reduce. The amount of emissions will also decrease thanks to the modernisation of the loading/unloading rack in the divinyl and hydrocarbon crude plant, oil skimmers in turbines in the butyl rubber plant, repair of flare towers in the ethylene plant.

Fewer residues

As for the reduction in waste production, the NKNK improved its indicators too. A replacement of internal cyclones in the isoprene-monomer plant led to a fall in the amount of catalyst slurry production. While the multiple use of containers to transport rubbers prevented accumulation of wooden and polypropylene pallets by 200 t/year.

NKNK tightened control over disposed slurry to the industrial waste landfill where the works to improve waterproofing are actively going on. The creation of two bitumen sites in the styrene and polyester resins allowed preventing soil pollution.

NKNK tightened control over disposed slurry to the industrial waste landfill where the works to improve waterproofing are actively going on. Photo: realnoevremya.ru

Ecology is one of the priorities of the petrochemical giant. This is why the financing of environmental protection measures and annual maintenance of environmental protection areas totals billions. The maintenance of the treatment facilities alone costs 300 million rubles a year.

Nevertheless, the flagship of Tatarstan petrochemistry keeps resolving environmental issues. Today Nizhnekamskneftekhim is developing the fifth environmental programme for the next years, which is as big as the previous ones. It will aim to improve the sewage quality, reduction of emissions, improve the environmental efficiency and emergency tolerance, develop environmental protection areas and better the monitoring system.

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By Liliya Yegorova
Tatarstan