“32,000 km of piping to be redone”: the second refinery in France “entirely shut down” for “corrosion and leaks”

“32,000 km of piping to be redone”: the second refinery in France “entirely shut down” for “corrosion and leaks”

For more than a week, the site of DongesFrance’s second largest refinery, is “entirely shut down” for “corrosion and leaks”, a representative of the CGT of this site announced on Friday. TotalEnergies, located near Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique). “This is a technical stoppage”, effective since February 20, declared Fabien Privé Saint-Lanne, general secretary of the CGT within the refinery.

The same day, the Loire-Atlantique prefecture published a prefectural decree relating to a formal notice from “TotalEnergies Raffinage France operating the Donges refinery”. In addition to the prefecture, the Regional Directorate for the Environment, Development and Housing (Dreal) is, among others, responsible for the “execution” of this decree, non-compliance with which may result in “prosecution.” criminal offenses,” according to the decree.

Half of the refinery already shut down

The management of the refinery affirmed on Saturday, via its communications department, that “the shutdown of the installations was decided by the refinery teams in order to carry out necessary repairs following corrosion on a unit and a blockage on a second. »

According to Fabien Privé Saint-Lanne, “currently, there are corrosion problems and leaks, a blockage on an oven (…) but also 32,000 km of piping to be redone” on this Seveso website at the high threshold. The leaks do not represent a risk for the environment of the site, he assured, estimating that the refinery will resume its activities “in a month, at the end of March”.

Half of the refinery’s installations had already been shut down since mid-December, following another formal notice from the Loire-Atlantique prefecture which ordered TotalEnergies “to respect the provisions (…) for pipes”.

“All of these actions currently represent expenses of around 50 million euros per year,” TotalEnergies said on Friday, saying it had “put in place very substantial means to ensure the security (of) the installations” of the site.

“Lower cost maintenance”

For Fabien Privé Saint-Lanne, the shutdown of the refinery is on the contrary due to “a policy of upkeep and maintenance at lower costs”. “The employees are understaffed and work 12, sometimes 16 hours in a row (…) which is dangerous,” lamented the union representative.

The French giant has not paid salaries since December to around twenty foreign employees, including nine Ukrainians, also denounced the CGT in a press release on Friday, referring to “a form of modern slavery”.

The management of the refinery affirmed on Saturday that it was ensuring “with the greatest vigilance that all elements of remuneration of contractors working on (its) site are duly paid, in particular when it comes to subcontracting of row 2”.

The Donges platform, which occupies an area of ​​nearly 350 ha and where 650 employees work, is the second refinery in France, after that of Normandy, according to the TotalEnergies website. It has a processing capacity of 11 million tonnes of crude oil per year, for a storage capacity of 2.2 million m3 (crude oil and finished products), according to the same source.

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