Nikolay Kolev, Health and Safety Manager at ContourGlobal Maritsa east 3 explains how the power plant operates in a state of emergency
Q: Mr. Kolev, in a state of emergency situation across the country, ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 TPP is operating at full capacity. What internal order has been put in place to ensure the security of the employees and the normal operation of the coal capacities?
A: At the onset of the COVID-19 threat we were aware that the power plant needed emergency measures that would first and foremost ensure the employees’ safety because it is of paramount importance in any organization. It is clear to everyone that even the most modern facility cannot function without a healthy and well-trained team. This is not just about our employees but also concerning everyone working on the premises of the TPP - subcontractors, suppliers, visitors. To this end we had quickly to take adequate measures and protect everyone as much as possible. The employees and subcontractors we work with have undergone special emergency briefing, the access for outsiders was limited to the maximum. We have reorganized the work of all our staff and for those whose functions do not necessarily require their presence onsite in the power plant, we have created conditions for remote work from home. But even with the employees working remotely we did a special home-office risk assessment based on the corporate procedure and the Bulgarian legislation.
As for the on-site measures at the TPP, they start at the entrance - everyone who is about to enter the power plant must undergo body temperature measurements with a remote thermometer and hand disinfection. Additional measures have been taken to permanently disinfect the workplaces, portals, sanitary facilities and shared premises at the power plant. The vehicles we come to work with, as well as the heavy machinery, are also subject to disinfection. We provide personal protection equipment and organize the workflow in a way that provides fo a distance of at least 2 meters between the employees. When specialized activities are required at a shorter distance between people, wearing additional personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and safety glasses is obligatory. For this we provide sufficient amount of necessary protective equipment for the personnel. The canteen has been reorganized
and its work time extended, again to provide the necessary distance between people.
We try to minimize the risks and ensure the safety of all. We are aware that the secure operation of the TPP also means a secure energy system that caters to the needs of functioning companies, the institutions and the household consumers. The specialized
plan for the work organization at the power plant during epidemics has been put into action and we strictly adhere to it.
Q: Certainly, the new challenges related to the virus have created new risks and difficulties in the TPP’s day-to-day operation. Do you manage to cope with them?
A: We are doing everything necessary to preserve the integrity of the production process. No one has foreseen the appearance of this particular challenge but the effort everyone makes is enormous and thanks to them we go on with our normal work. Here is the place to say that nearly 500 employees work at the power plant, plus the subcontract workers whose number varies depending on the activities currently being performed. Most employees at the TPP commute about an hour to go to work. Among them are people from nearby Galabovo but also commuters from the Haskovo, Stara Zagora and Yambol districts - a total of over 40 municipalities! By adding the suppliers and subcontractors from the Stara Zagora region, indirect employment reaches more than 4,000 people. The biggest challenge is to keep these people healthy, energized and motivated in their daily professional responsibilities. When we guarantee and
enable this to happen, we secure our operation. Thanks to the measures that ContourGlobal has taken people are at work today and our electricity system relies on us as one of the reliable and modern coal capacities in the Maritsa East complex.
Q: You produce electricity in a state of emergency. Is the power plant capable of withstanding the risks in the long run and thus ensure its supply in the near future?
A: Responsibility to society and the industrial sector is not something new to us. The current situation intensifies this feeling but it does not change in any way the tasks we have been performing for years for the electricity production. From the beginning
of the state of emergency (March 13) to the end of March, ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 TPP has produced 13% of the country's electricity. We maintain the required stock of fuels and raw materials which is important for times like this.
Q: What is the situation at the power plant? Are people worried about what is going on and the fact that they are still at work?
A: ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 TPP is a power plant whose good operational results are due to the professionalism and competence of all the colleagues on our team. The risks of the epidemic are extremely serious, but our staff are strict in terms of safety measures and consistent in their duties. We rely on the responsible attitude and discipline of each of our colleagues to go through this trial together and continue to provide the much-needed electricity for the country's energy system. Thank you to all the colleagues facing these daily challenges with the utmost professionalism!