Two killed in an occupational accident at Enefit plant

A serious occupational accident at an Enefit Power oil plant in Ida-Viru County on Sunday cost the lives of two men. PHOTO: Eesti Energia

A serious occupational accident at an Enefit Power oil plant in Ida-Viru County on Sunday cost the lives of two men, aged 27 and 38.

The tragic events unfolded during maintenance in an Enefit 280 liquid fuel plant when a 27-year-old employee entered a heavy fuel oil tank for the purpose of cleaning it at around 8.40 p.m. The employee, who was wearing protective equipment, told their supervisor that they are not feeling well before losing consciousness. The Eesti Energia rescue commando in Auvere and the Alarm Center were notified.

Before the arrival of rescue personnel – Sillamäe and Narva rescue teams, ambulance and police – the plant’s 38-year-old shift supervisor tried to help his colleague but also lost consciousness after entering the tank despite wearing a protective mask. Rescuers pulled the men out of the tank and administered CPR but were not able to save them.

A former Enefit Power employee (identity known) suggested the tragic accident could have been caused by carelessness. The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said he knew 38-year-old Jevgeni and described him as a responsible and hardworking man. Jevgeni worked his way up from an entry-level job over a period of ten years.

The 27-year-old man who entered the tank to clean it had also worked at the plant for seven years.

Neither men had children.

Postimees’ source said that because they have only managed to gather snippets of information about the accident, no decisive conclusions can be drawn at this time, while it is possible the accident happened out of carelessness. “It was a routine task. The younger man climbed into the tank to clean it and suddenly felt unwell. He had enough time to tell his partner before passing out,” the source suggested.

He added that the spotter panicked and ran to fetch the shift supervisor. The latter also lost consciousness and later his life after entering the tank, probably due to lack of oxygen, in an attempt to save his colleague.

“The likeliest explanation is that they were careless and failed to take all necessary precautions. The lack of oxygen meant they had nothing to breathe,” the source said, adding that the man who first entered the tank should have been wearing a safety harness with a rope attached so he could be pulled out. “There should have been two spotters instead of just one and the person cleaning the tank should have been wearing an oxygen mask.”

CEO of Enefit Power Andres Vainola extended his condolences to the next of kin of the victims and promised that the company will cooperate with the police, prosecution and labor inspectorate to get to the bottom of the causes of the accident. Enefit Power will also help family members find grief counseling and offer crisis counseling to employees.

The prosecution has launched a criminal investigation to ascertain the causes of the accident. An in-house investigation has been launched inside Enefit Power.

The last fatal accident at the Narva oil plant happened in May of 2019 when a 47-year-old man came into contact with hot ash when cleaning a boiler and later died of injuries in the hospital.