How Nizhnekamskneftekhim improves local environment

How Nizhnekamskneftekhim improves local environment
Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

In the last six years, Tatarstan’s petrochemical flagship Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC, which is part of TAIF GC, has taken over 420 measures. Environmental protection costs have totalled around 29 billion rubles. Thanks to long-term work on environmental improvement in the area, the company has significantly reduced the amount of harmful emissions into the atmosphere, river water consumption and increased the output. Precisely a careful attitude to nature is one of the priorities of Nizhnekamskneftekhim. Air tests, which are available at state and ministerial air quality monitoring stations 24/7, are evidence of it.

Where is cleaner air?

Nizhnekamsk is an industrial centre of Tatarstan. The biggest petrochemical enterprises and oil refineries of not only the republic but also the country are concentrated here. This is why environmental safety issues have always been given pride of place here.

The Tatarstan Office of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring also monitors air quality in Tatarstan cities with a population of more than 100,000 people. For this purpose, Nizhnekamsk has three fixed stations — in the 36th District, at the crossroads of Khimikov and Stroiteley Prospekts and on Lesnaya Street.

Environmental safety issues have always been given pride of place in Nizhnekamsk. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

Tests are updated every day (except for Sundays and festive days) four times a day at 1.00, 7.00, 13.00 и 19.00. They show the concentration of dust, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, hydrogen oxide, nitrogen oxide, phenol, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, benzene, xylene, toluene and other harmful substances.

The Tatarstan Hydrometeorological Centre publishes the data on its website. According to it, the concentration of harmful substances in the petrochemists’ capital isn’t above the norm, neither is it in Naberezhnye Chelny. But we carefully examine the numbers, we can notice that the quality of air in Naberezhnye Chelny isn’t worse than in Nizhnekamsk, it give way to the neighbours at times.

So during the period of monitoring from 30 July to 3 August, the indicators of harmful substances in the Nizhnekamsk air were within the norm. Samples from the fixed stations installed in the microdistrict on Lesnaya Street provided the following results: dust — 0,2 mg/m3 (MAC — 0,5), sulphur dioxide — 0,009 (MAC — 0,5), hydrogen oxide — 0,8 (MAC — 5), nitrogen dioxide — 0,043 (MAC — 0,2), phenol — 0,002 (MAC — 0,01), ammonia — 0,04 (MAC — 0,2), formaldehyde — 0,024 (MAC — 0,05).

Here is the data of air monitoring from Naberezhnye Chelny: dust — 0,2 (MAC — 0,5), hydrogen oxide — 1,3 (MAC — 5), nitrogen dioxide — 0,04 (MAC — 0,2), phenol — 0,003 (MAC — 0,01), ammonia — 0,03 (MAC — 0,2), formaldehyde — 0,01 (MAC — 0,05). As we see, the numbers are anyway bigger than in Nizhnekamsk, though insignificantly, and in several substances.

It is noteworthy that the amount of harmful substances in Kazan during the same period insignificantly exceeded the norm at five out of 10 stations. So the Station No. 3 on Pravobulachnaya Street, showed the following results: sulphur dioxide — 0,002 (MAC — 0,5), hydrogen oxide — 0,6 (MAC — 5), nitrogen dioxide — 0,44 (MAC — 0,2), hydrogen sulphide — 0,001, phenol — 0,003 (MAC — 0,01), ammonia — 0,24 (MAC — 0,2).

There was an excess of formaldehyde — 0,065 (MAC — 0,05) on Gorky Highway, 2. The air in the Tatarstan petrochemical capital turned out to be much cleaner despite the number of industrial enterprises. Many people wonder why the environmental situation in Nizhnekamsk isn’t so bad.

Twofold emission reduction

The petrochemists’ capital not only pays a lot of attention to environmental problems but also knows how to solve them. Take the backbone enterprise Nizhnekamskneftekhim. The company has always been famous for its careful attitude to the environment. In the last 19 years, the enterprise has reduced the amount of emissions into the atmosphere by 54%, while output has doubled.

“Providing reliable environmental protection is one of the priorities of our company,” says Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Ayrat Safin. “This is why we invest a lot of money to implement environmental programmes aimed to reduce the negative environmental impact.”

The company has been implementing the fourth environmental programme since 2001. Within the programme from 2014 to 2019, it became possible to improve environmental effectiveness and reduce consumption: feedstock consumption by 9,7%, water for production — by 10,2%, emissions into the atmosphere — by 18,6%, thermal energy — by 6,2%.

The modernisation of the biological treatment facilities already proved its effectiveness. Citizens of Nizhnekamsk immediately noticed an improvement in the quality of air. Photo: realnoevremya.ru.

NKNK’s biological treatment facilities that the enterprise owns play a big role in the region’s environmental safety. The company completed their large-scale reconstruction in 2019. The latest technology and state-of-the-art equipment were used in the BTF. A new 15-km sewage tank was laid.

“The reconstruction of the biological treatment facilities with the construction of the off-site tank increased the throughput and reliability of the sewage transportation system to the treatment facilities. It also enabled to reduce the emission of smells into the atmosphere in the mechanical treatment unit. All this had a positive impact on the citizens’ comfortable life near the enterprise,” explains head of the enterprise’s Environmental Protection Department Svetlana Yamkova.

The modernisation of the biological treatment facilities already proved its effectiveness. Citizens of Nizhnekamsk immediately noticed an improvement in the quality of air. Republican ecologists and local authorities confirm this fact as well. The head of the Tatarstan Ministry of Ecology recently noted Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s contribution to environmental protection at a meeting with the population during his business trip to the petrochemical capital of Tatarstan on 14 August.

He says the environmental situation in Nizhnekamsk is stable now. The number of complaints about emissions into the atmosphere has considerably reduced.

“According to the data we receive from the automated air quality control stations and the information from industrial enterprise, the situation in the city is stable today. 43 substances are monitored. We see that the enterprise also do a lot to avoid bulk emissions. Nizhnekamskneftekhim that built treatment facilities makes a big contribution. Moreover, the enterprise did a lot to deal with companies that can discharge bulk emissions into sewage. Wells have sensors that show the level of gas contamination. The integrated work will go on with all enterprises,” he concluded.

The head of the ecology ministry said that ecologists in Nizhnekamsk would soon be able to monitor all 6,500 sources of emissions into the atmosphere online. Leading scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences joined this work. The petrochemists are also actively participating in the development of this programme.

“According to the data we receive from the automated air quality control stations and the information from industrial enterprise, the situation in the city is stable today. 43 substances are monitored. We see that the enterprise also do a lot to avoid bulk emissions. Nizhnekamskneftekhim that built treatment facilities makes a big contribution. Moreover, the enterprise did a lot to deal with companies that can discharge bulk emissions into sewage. Wells have sensors that show the level of gas contamination. The integrated work will go on with all enterprises,” Shadrikov noted.

Nizhnekamsk Mayor Aydar also repeatedly noted that there was no smell that used to be in Nizhnekamsk. Moreover, Nizhnekamskneftekhim not only opened the upgraded BTF, built the new sewage tank but also a water treatment plant in 2007 in whose steady operation the company keeps investing considerable money.

Three billion on BTF modernisation

Nizhnekamskneftekhim allocated over three billion rubles to upgrade the BTF. Despite the reconstruction, the BTF operated as usual. The volume of treated sewage didn’t change, neither did the control over them.

The air became cleaner thanks to the modern technology catching and decontamination of steam and gas in contaminated sewage. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

In 2019, the petrochemists modernised the chemically contaminated sewage mechanical treatment unit. One of the best exhaust gas treatment technology was used — biofilters. Moreover, together with Moscow colleagues Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s R&D specialists were selected a system of biofilters with up 95% treatment effectiveness.

“The obsolete mechanical treatment equipment was replaced for new, a chemically contaminated sewage tank switching chamber was also built. The process flow was added additional treatment levels such traps and sewage pre-aeration unit, while effective gas treatment units were built to prevent the air from polluting,” says head of the enterprise’s Environmental Protection Department Svetlana Yamkova.

Last year, the content of organic pollutants in treated sewage — COD, BOD, ammonia ions, phosphates, some metals — notably decreased. The air became cleaner thanks to the modern technology catching and sterilising steam and gas in contaminated sewage.

Well-oiled air monitoring system

Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s ecologists pay special attention to the quality of air. Certified ministerial laboratories monitor it in the company, which, by the way, has a licence for hydrometeorology.

“Our both ecological laboratories are certified, a department of production environmental control was created there in February 2020. Moreover, requirements for certified laboratories constantly become tighter, stricter. Laboratories must meet at least 94 criteria. Special attention is paid to the qualification of the staff, certified measuring methods, necessary equipment, consumables and rooms,” says head of the enterprise’s Environmental Protection Department Svetlana Yamkova.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim has had its own automated air control system for 12 years. It consists of five fixed stations. The first one appeared on the border of the first industrial site. The chemists created the fifth control station in the biological treatment facilities in 2013.

Every station has precise devices inside that send information to the central dispatcher’s room of the enterprise. Apart from chemical indicators, physical factors are measured as well — the direction, speed of the wind, the temperature of the air and so on. Dispatchers, ecologists have all information about the state of the air on their screens.

Unique mobile station

The petrochemists also have a modern mobile station provided with the latest equipment. It was purchased for 24 million rubles in 2019. The car has gas sensors, chromatographs, dust sensors, a meteorological set, an automated information collection and processing system, illumination, ventilation and air conditioner.

The petrochemists also have a modern mobile station provided with the latest equipment. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

“It’s great support for work,” says head of the enterprise’s Environmental Protection Department Svetlana Yamkova. “The employees of the environmental service now can quickly respond to complaints, quickly go to the scene and do tests online.

The mobile station controls the quality of air in 25 places, including residential districts of the city, nearest settlements and sites in the sanitary and protection zone. The system examines its content for 19 pollutants. Last year, there were carried out almost 16,000 air measurements with the help of the station.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s ecologists monitor the quality of sewage in the industrial zone as well. So last year automated sensors were installed in three places. They take samples every 8 minutes and control the pH and total organic carbon of sewage. The programme helps detect the source of pollution in the short-term and take correctional measures.

Moreover, the petrochemists monitor the quality of surface water in the Kama and Tungucha Rivers and underground water in observation wells near a closed landfill and an operating industrial waste landfill where waterproofing is underway.

In 2019, Nizhnekamskneftekhim implemented an important project on sanitary and epidemiological legislation to determine restricted areas. Russia’s consumer rights protection watchdog granted permission to establish a sanitary and protection zone for a group of enterprises (factories) of the company.

The work done to establish the area provides a proper safety level of the population when using facilities of the enterprises, reduction in the air pollution to both the numbers fixed by hygienic rules and allowable risk for the population’s health.

It is also important that last year Nizhnekamskneftekhim carried out a recertification audit of the quality management system, safety management system and supervisory audit of the environmental management system for the compliance with requirements of international standards by IQNet auditors together with CQS auditors from the Czech Republic. After the audit, there wasn’t found any non-compliance, the force of the earlier issued certificate on environmental management was confirmed.

“We always remember the social component of our activity”

Nowadays the implementation of the fourth environmental programme is coming to an end. The fifth one will replace it, which is no less big and effective. It will be designed to improve the quality of sewage, reduce emissions, increase environmental efficiency and emergency tolerance, develop environmentally protected sites and improve the monitoring system. The enterprise will keep putting effort to minimise the environmental impact.

Moreover, within TAIF holding’s pilot programme, and Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC is part of the Group of Companies, there will be created a digital interactive map showing the dispersion of harmful substances in Nizhnekamsk. It is considered to integrate data of all inventory controls and results of uninterrupted control of emissions in real time mode. This will allow showing the unbiased state of the air and evaluating the impact of neighbouring enterprises.

According to the company’s Director General Ayrat Safin, the performance is successful thanks to the thousands of workers’ honest work and total dedication.

“As a socially responsible company, we always remember the social component of our activity. The Polyclinic No. 1 was modernised and provided with new modern equipment, a new burns unit opened in the urban multi-disciplinary hospital, up-to-date ambulance cars were purchased,” Ayrat Safin says.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim is the biggest taxpayer. Tax payments of the company to the municipal budget totalled over 13bn rubles from 1995 to 2019. During this period, more than 26 billion rubles were spent on social programmes and social expenses to develop Nizhnekamsk.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim is the biggest taxpayer. Tax payments of the company to the municipal budget totalled over 13bn rubles from 1995 to 2019

The enterprise invests money to improve the population’s quality of life. 522 million rubles have been allocated to develop Nizhnekamsk in the last five years, which is road repairs, reconstruction of the embankment, culture centres, improvement of the infrastructure of parks and squares. The pedestrian area near Neftekhim Arena ice palace was improved, the People’s Culture Centre was repaired with the company’s money and given to the city for free. It is planned to reconstruct children’s camps, develop the city’s sports infrastructure in the future.

By Liliya Yegorova
Tatarstan