‘I imagined everything differently’: doctors from Nizhnekamsk give their assessment to Nizhnekamskneftekhim

A guided tour has been organised for the medical community

To visit the production facilities of one of the largest enterprises in the country, to see how petrochemists take care of environmental safety, what measures are carried out for this, and to dispel myths about the danger of smoky combustion — this was the purpose of the trip of the doctors from Nizhnekamsk to Nizhnekamskneftekhim. What impressions they had and what new and useful things they learned for themselves — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

Seeing for themselves

This is the first trip of the doctors from Nizhnekamsk to the territory of the largest petrochemical giant. Natalia Shishkina, the head of the department of medical and social assistance at the children's polyclinic No. 1, has dreamed since childhood of seeing what is hidden behind the high fence. When they offered an excursion to Nizhnekamskneftekhim, she agreed without hesitation.

“At school, I visited the Nizhnekamsk tyre factory. That was many years ago. I haven't been here yet, but I've always wanted to. My husband works at Nizhnekamskneftekhim. When he talks about production, I am amazed at what I hear. Petrochemical process — it is so complicated," she said with admiration.

More than 10 Nizhnekamsk doctors went on an excursion to Nizhnekamskneftekhim. The group was small for a reason, so that everyone could ask questions and learn more about the company. Elvira Dolotkazina, the assistant director general for work with municipal bodies of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, acted as a guide to the big petrochemical world. The tour started on the bus.

“This year Nizhnekamskneftekhim celebrates its 55th anniversary. This is the main city-forming enterprise of the city, which today is part of SIBUR company. Nizhnekamsk was built thanks to the construction of the petrochemical plant. Today, Nizhnekamskneftekhim is the largest taxpayer. Its area is 22 square kilometres. It's a city within a city. More than 15,000 people work here, and another 5,000 work in subsidiaries. Besides, we have 10,500 veterans of labour, which we do not forget," said Elvira Dolotkazina.

She stressed that environmental issues are the constant focus of attention. Over the past 20 years, the company has allocated more than 13 billion rubles for environmental protection measures. Since 2001, output has been increased by almost 2 times, while emissions have been decreased by almost 47%. This year, the agreement on cooperation between Rosprirodnadzor and Nizhnekamskneftekhim on the implementation of environmental measures worth more than 6 billion rubles has been signed.

Clean and odourless

Once on the territory of the enterprise, the doctors noticed that there were no unpleasant odours. The air quality is controlled by a monitoring system. Air samples are taken every 20 minutes at five stationary environmental posts. No one conceals the results of the analyses — they are automatically sent to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of the Republic of Tatarstan, and every resident of the city can also get acquainted with them in the mobile application “Moy Neftekhim”.

“Nizhnekamskneftekhim is the only enterprise in Tatarstan that transmits data on the state of atmospheric access to government agencies online. Moreover it should be mentioned that in 2019 we purchased a mobile ecological post. Thanks to it, we monitor the air quality in a number of settlements, on the border of the sanitary protection zone. If there are complaints from Nizhnekamsk residents about unpleasant odours, we leave promptly, take samples. After that, we transmit these data to the Ministry of Environment," stressed Oleg Grishakov, the environmental manager at Nizhnekamskneftekhim.

Then the guests went to the first Central Gas Fractionating Unit 1 where the first product was made 55 years ago. In memory of this milestone, a symbolic monument to the enterprise’s birthday was installed here.

“Big Nizhnekamsk petrochemistry began here. While today Nizhnekamskneftekhim is a global player in the world market. The world’s best tyre companies use our rubber,” said Elvira Dolotkazina.

The Nizhnekamsk medics took a group photo in front of the stele as memento and continued to get familiarised with the enterprise. On this day, the guests also visited Synthetic Rubber Plant, Rubber Briquette Drying and Shaping Shop.

“World tyre companies are key consumers of our rubber. We work mainly for exports, some of our products go to the neighbouring plant to make impact-resistant plastic. This line was launched in 2012. A gas treatment unit was installed to reduce emissions. It is necessary to catch small particles when drying rubber. All crumbs stay in the tank, only steam is emitted into the air,” said the shop’s foreman Dmitry Savelyev.

“One shouldn’t be afraid of burning flares”

Then, the medics visited Plastics Plant, saw a flare and learnt about what the cooling tower was for.

“Flare burning is envisaged by the manufacturing regime, one shouldn’t be afraid of it,” noted Oleg Grishakov. “Flares are necessary in all manufacturing enterprises to bury exhaust gases. They prevent emissions from ending up in the atmosphere, petrochemicals are burnt at the flare. It is a whole system including a network of pipelines, flare stacks with tips, burners, valves, automatic control systems,” added the director of environmental affairs at NKNK.

Throughout the excursion, the medics asked leading questions, they wondered how products were stored, how some petrochemical process took place, why a black smoke was sometimes seen from the pipes in the industrial zone. The petrochemists explained that it was a defensive reactions to a change of parameters of the manufacturing regime and is envisaged by corresponding norms, the whole process is overseen by ecologists and watchdogs. There is no rise seen in the maximum allowed concentration in the air during this period, and there is no threat to the population and the environment.

On their way back home, the guests thanked the organisers for the trip. Somebody admitted they expected to see a different picture.

“I imagined everything differently. It is clean and neat on the territory and in the shops, while the environment is under strict control. I liked everything very much. Now I understand that a lot of things that are said about the enterprise don’t match the reality,” noted paramedic Alina Minnakhmetova.

“It is interesting, captivating. The main myth is that Nizhnekamskneftekhim is the major pollutant of the air has been debunked for me today. We have seen the automatic monitoring system and learnt about other environment protection measures that help to save the environment,” said paramedic Guzel Nuriakhmetova.

At the end of the trip, Elvira Dolotkazina told them that a night excursion was offered in the enterprise summer, on Youth Day’s eve. There are always a lot of people who are interested. The medics asked to take them too to see Nizhnekamskneftekhim again, but amid thousands of lights.

Liliya Yegorova. Photo: Albert Muklokov