Esmeralda refinery continues to present incidents. The most recent occurred last week (second incident in less than three months) when a gas leak caused the evacuation of 500 employees.
Besides the damages that have been generated, the repeated spills fuel oil on the ground (1,300 barrels), the refinery also presents the poor state of equipment such as pumps and fans that have triggered economic losses, material and human.
According to the authorities of the Esmeraldas Refinery, there is an emergency plan for these cases, however workers and villagers do not know about it. There is no information on prevention measures and security in the Esmeraldas refinery, while operators FCC plant, which produces gas and gasoline, reported that their obsolete equipment jeopardizes the safety of the plant .
Petroecuador has said it is conducting a slow modernization, which has been running since 2008 and consists of a process of rehabilitation of the refinery by the South Korean company SK. First they said the FCC intervention would plant in October 2010, after the end of 2011 and later in August 2012. Now there is talk of September 2013.
The plant is prohibited from making statements to the media. Carlos Pareja Yanuzzelli, Petroecuador Refinery manager, acknowledged that the Esmeraldas refinery has no ISO 9001 certification (quality standards), ISO 14001 (environmental standards) or ISO 18001 (health and safety), but says it is not a obligation.
Fourteen years after the oil spill and subsequent fire in the La Propicia in Esmeraldas, inhabitants of the area and especially plant workers live daily fear that a new disaster could cost them their lives.
That incident happened on February 26, 1998, not only it left 29 dead and dozens injured, but also exposed the vulnerability of the plant and the risk to which the population is exposed. In this event, we add the refinery accident within the December 8, 2010, in which three workers received serious burns while trying to start the heating furnace fuel oil.
At the time, the maintenance operations are paralyzed.