By John Donovan

Royal Dutch Shell has expelled 60 workers from a Dutch chemical plant after workers were caught using drugs.

The Shell Moerdijk plant in the Netherlands makes chemical products from petroleum. It employs over 800 employees and over 500 contractors. It is one of the largest chemical complexes in Europe. 

Last October I reported a steam leak at the plant which resulted in flaring activity and a declaration of force majeure by Shell.

Today comes news of widespread drug use by workers at the plant.

Imagine the potential consequences if Shell workers in the Arctic drilling campaign had a similar problem. Perhaps they did in 2012.

It would explain a lot.

The same potential danger arises in relation to workers on the Prelude FLNG project.  Another Shell venture fraught with huge risks.

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Shell expelled dozens of temporary workers from their complex in Moerdijk after the staff was caught using soft drugs. The company confirmed the news to BN De Stem.

Shell spokesman Thjis van Velzen told the newspaper that the drug use was discovered during two inspections, which also included an investigation into permanent workers. Consumption of drugs in the workplace are violations of the existing safety regulations.

Safety at the facility came under scrutiny after an explosion there last June left several people hurt and caused significant damage there. A buildup of excess pressure caused the blast, Shell said months later.

The inspections involved sniffer dogs and urine tests, a spokesman for the company confirmed earlier on Friday. The company is not commenting further on the number of people with positive outcomes and its consequences.

Trade union FNV criticized urine tests, because they come out positive not only for those who use smoke to ingest drugs, but also for those who stand nearby. The union suggested saliva controls should be used instead, which could also help in establishing hard drugs usage.

Those fired were temporary workers many of whom came from Eastern Europe. “There were empty beer cans inside the gates and drugs were traded in the parking lot of the factory,” FNV director Egbert Schellenberg said. “The Eastern European working mentality for that matter is sometimes different from ours.”


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