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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 3, 2008
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Chemical Production and Environmental Quality
December 3, 2008   
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Everyone is eager to use chemical products, which improve the quality of everyday life, but not everyone is ready to accept a chemical producer as a neighbor. But the example of PKN Orlen, Poland's largest chemical company, shows that chemical production can be environmentally friendly.

Harmony between industry and the natural environment is not only possible but also necessary. As the leading company in the petrochemical sector in Central and Eastern Europe, PKN Orlen has a special responsibility. The company's commitment to projects designed to minimize its negative impact on the environment has earned it the coveted title of Polish Ecology Leader.

PKN Orlen has also recently been named an Environment-Friendly Company for the environmental friendliness of a modern hydrodesulphuring installation recently built in the oil refinery in Płock. The process is designed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. The fuel produced by the company earlier contained from 2 percent to 3 percent sulfur. Thanks to the new installation, this content has been reduced to 1 percent. The idea is revolutionary in that it involves removing sulfur from fuel rather than flue gases.

But the effect of the new hydrodesulphuring installation is not only cleaner air but also financial benefits for PKN Orlen since the environmental taxes it pays have been greatly reduced. In 2007, the company paid over 20 percent less in this respect than in previous years.

In October this year, Orlen Eko, a subsidiary of PKN Orlen, launched a thermal waste treatment installation, the most modern facility of its kind in Poland. The installation is intended first of all for the disposal of waste from oil processing and for effluent treatment. The waste preparation, transport and incineration processes coupled with individual heat recovery and flue gas treatment systems for each kind of waste make the facility one of the most modern thermal waste treatment plants in Europe.

Containment systems and quality
Modernizing distribution and storage facilities, the company's specialty, is the greatest challenge for PKN Orlen. Containment systems preventing the leakage of fuel at filling stations and fuel terminals are installed to minimize any harmful environmental impact and improve working and living conditions for people in the impact area.

There are two types of containment systems at filling stations. The first and most important one is designed to prevent fuel vapor emissions in the process of pumping fuel from tank trucks to underground tanks. The second one is designed to prevent fuel vapor emissions at the pumps in the process of filling up with gasoline. The system directs vapor emitted from the car tank back to the underground fuel tank with the use of a vacuum pump.

In its environmental policy, PKN Orlen also focuses on product quality. The objective is to improve the quality of fuels to eliminate their adverse environmental impact. All types of gasoline produced by PKN Orlen contain a selection of highest-quality additives. The main component is a detergent that guarantees the highest engine valve cleanliness standards as defined by the Worldwide Fuel Charter. And for four years now PKN Orlen-produced diesel oils have met EU requirements that will come into force in 2011. In 2007, the company carried out over 700 environmental projects of various kind in its filling stations and fuel terminals across Poland. The combined cost of the projects was zl.138 million.

Not an empty platitude
The use of new information technology brings notable benefits to the natural environment. If the distribution of documents in paper form is replaced with electronic distribution, the consumption of paper and toners is considerably reduced. One example of such measures taken by PKN Orlen is the Sowa project, which improved the company's financial and accounting processes by introducing the electronic distribution of invoices and other accounting documents. An additional advantage of the project is that it has eliminated the need to make multiple copies of hundreds of thousands of documents a year as there is now a special application program that enables viewing and accepting the documents. It is also worth noting that PKN Orlen has been consistently reducing the amount of plastic packaging used and replacing it with paper and cardboard packaging. All these activities show that environmental awareness in the chemical sector is not an empty platitude.

Michał Jeziorski

Protecting Falcons
This year marks seven years since PKN Orlen teamed up with the Sokół Association for Wild Animals aiming to restore the Polish population of peregrine falcons. Eighteen fledglings have hatched so far in nesting boxes placed on PKN Orlen premises. The birds are monitored all year round. The company regularly reviews the nesting boxes, produces photo and video documentation of the nesting falcons and rings the fledglings. In 2007, four fledglings hatched in a nesting box installed on the chimney of a heat-and-power generating plant on PKN Orlen premises. It has been confirmed that all the eggs were laid by the same bird. A pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the premises of the oil refinery in Płock and produced fledglings for the seventh year running, which is very rare for this species.
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