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Worker dies and two more injured at Shell Buenos Aires refinery fire

Worker dies and two more injured at Shell Buenos Aires refinery fire


16 November 2018

Passing this on from Argentinian colleagues: one worker has died and two more were hospitalised with injuries after a fire at Shell’s Dock Sud refinery near Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday. (Video of fire here.) 

The historic Dock Sud refinery was commissioned in 1931 and last year Shell passed on ownership to its 50% controlled Brazilian subsidiary Raizen. The fire started last Sunday in a sector of the refinery that was closed for repairs, where the three injured workers were soldering. Two were able to escape the fire themselves and the third was discovered by colleagues who began fighting the fire, according to trade union outlet Prensa Obrera. He died in hospital the day after. The story has been reported in a couple of small outlets in Argentina but not anywhere else.

Translated article


On Sunday, 11 November, at about 11 am, a fire broke out in the CD3 sector of the Raízen refinery (acquired just a few months ago from the multinational Shell) in Dock sud, Avellaneda party with a tragic balance of a deceased worker and several injured.

During the course of the morning, in the sector HV2 (high vacuum 2) also occurred a fire, in smaller scale, but that seemed to be portent of what would come next.

The episode took place at the plant called CD3, a sector subject to “plant shutdown”, an exercise planned for the restructuring and commissioning of said complex. There they were working on different companies, including Raízen (Shell), Hidrocinetic S.A., Velo S.A. (last two, outsourced under the UOCRA agreement). The fire was caused by the absolute negligence of the employer, responsible for a large number of anomalies and deficiencies in the work processes.

The stop of the plant in question is equivalent to millionaire budgets, bounded and planned for exact days. The company, in order to reactivate the sector and the fuel production chain, has these days reduced repairs in a shorter time and increasing work rates under poor working conditions.

On Sunday, three workers from the company Hidrocinetic, who performed welding tasks were direct victims of an explosion that could have been avoided if the minimum security conditions were respected. Two workers were able to unlock their safety harness and escape. The first with fractures due to the jump he had to give to escape; the second, with burns on his face and arms. While brigadistas tried to control the fire, they discovered a third worker caught in the flames while it was hanging of the harness, for not being able to leave it. With the fire moderately controlled they were able to lower it. His body was burned at 85%. The next day he died in the hospital.

Hidrocinetic S.A. It is a company that for several decades has been aligned with the oil companies for the exploitation of workers in the sector of refineries under the agreement UOCRA. Shell, today Raízen keeps silent about this labor crime, a tragedy that could have been much worse had it not been for the Shell workers themselves, who are also brigadistas (for a miserable economic increase that gives the company those who, besides workers operate as “firefighters”)

Shell / Raízen is absolutely responsible for what happened, its security policy ends where the economic losses begin. It is there that it is decided to work under pressure, in limited times, where safety happens to another plane and only seeks to resume the plant to continue production processes at all costs. It does not reach with the millions that collect with the increases in the rates of fuels and gas. The employers do not hesitate to sacrifice safety and hygiene standards to revive your company at any price. A few days ago, a large number of products with hydrocarbons was sent to rio de la plata for not being able to manipulate it, today to shorten planning days an explosion took the life of a worker.

The oil union, for its part, so far did not move a finger. There was silence again.

For its part, the municipal government of the ultra K Jorge Ferraresi, and the provincial government of Cambiemos turn a blind eye to this situation. While the employers benefit from the state’s tariffs and subsidies, the workers pay with their lives the employer’s negligence. The absence of controls on the part of the state allows the company to continue with this anti-worker policy.

On the one hand, the need to start a campaign by mixed committees on security and hygiene with a veto power, to defend not only the right methods of work but also the life of the workers themselves. On the other hand, require the permanent floor of all contractors and outsourced workers who are fraudulently framed in agreements lower than the main activity, which is a negotiated for employers and the bureaucracy box but undermines working conditions , the salary and the life of the workers.

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