Regina's Co-op refinery dealing with COVID-19 outbreak during yearly maintenance

·2 min read
The Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) is currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. There have a been a total of 20 cases at the plant since the end of March, a CRC spokesperson said. (Matt Duguid/CBC - image credit)
The Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) is currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. There have a been a total of 20 cases at the plant since the end of March, a CRC spokesperson said. (Matt Duguid/CBC - image credit)

The Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) in Regina is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, after "multiple" cases on site in recent days.

In an emailed statement to CBC News on Thursday, a CRC spokesperson didn't confirm the exact number of active cases, but said the outbreak is believed to be isolated to two on-site contractor companies.

"We are working with the contractors to reinforce that COVID-19 protocols must not only be followed onsite but offsite as well," the spokesperson wrote. "The health and safety of everyone on site is our top priority and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

The statement goes on to read that there have been a total of 20 cases since March 29 — half of which are not considered to be from worker-to-worker transmission — and they've had "no impact to operations."

Health Minister Paul Merriman told reporters Thursday the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is doing what it can to help the refinery deal with its spike in COVID-19 cases.

"As with any outbreak, we always have boots on the ground to make sure that everyone's adhering to the public health guidelines [and] they've got their [personal protective equipment]," Merriman said. "The SHA is always there to make sure that we can help out if needed."

Since the refinery is in "turnaround" — otherwise known as yearly maintenance — it's had more people working at the plant than usual, the spokesperson said. With the process 80 per cent complete, the number of workers on site is set to dwindle until operations wrap at the end of the month.

The union for workers at the Co-op Refinery in Regina says the company has been enforcing personal protective equipment protocols.
The union for workers at the Co-op Refinery in Regina says the company has been enforcing personal protective equipment protocols. (Tory Gillis/CBC)

"The company has been very good about communicating with us since the start any positive cases in the plant," said Nathan Kraemer, president of Unifor Local 594.

Kraemer said he isn't aware of how many of his members are currently in isolation and is only told limited information due to privacy laws. He said he's always a bit concerned about COVID-19 and his members, but that the Refinery's safety rules go above and beyond.

"People are wearing PPE. We get audited daily. They're definitely enforcing that," he said. "All we can really do is continue abiding by the recommendations and things that have been put in place by the SHA and by the company and hope for the best."

Kraemer said he's mostly been hearing that the cases are with contractors working during the shutdown as well.

"We've been lucky so far to mostly keep it out of the CRC employees."

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