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FAQ2020-02-28T13:54:03+01:00

FAQ

Your questions – Our answers:

What does our planned project mean for you and your region? Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Please remember that the project is still only at the planning stage. Although this FAQ section will be continuously updated, there may be deviations and changes in relation to the project at any time until the planning phase is completed. Only forecasts can be made at the moment, particularly with regard to the construction and operating phases. Thank you for your understanding.

1. Who are PCC?2020-05-22T13:07:30+01:00

We are an owner-managed group of companies headquartered in Duisburg, Germany. Our biggest division is Chemicals with the segments Surfactants, Polyols, Chlorine, Specialty Chemicals and Consumer Products. We also operate in the logistics and energy sectors. PCC was founded in 1993 by Waldemar Preussner, who, as its sole shareholder, is today Chairman of the Administrative Board of the parent company PCC SE.
As an investor aligned to the long term, PCC SE holds interests in 82 companies with more than 3,500 employees at 41 locations in 18 countries. Most of our sites are in Europe, especially Eastern Europe and there primarily in Poland, and in Iceland. We also operate in the USA, Asia and Africa. Consolidated sales in 2019 amounted to 767.5 million euros. Find out more >>

2. What chemicals are due to be manufactured by PCC in Lülsdorf?2020-02-07T12:36:28+01:00

The planned main plant will produce high-purity ethylene oxide (EO) from ethylene and oxygen and will have an annual production capacity of approximately 180,000 metric tons. Of this volume, up to 140,000 metric tons will be further processed on site. The remaining tonnage is to be sold to customers elsewhere. The main plant would also produce monoethylene glycol as a by-product. There will be an ancillary facility designed to recover CO2 for enhanced climate protection.

According to current planning, the project comprises not just the main plant but also five other facilities, including several for the production of polyethylene glycols and ethoxylates, which will use around 110,000 metric tons of the ethylene oxide produced here each year. An ethylene carbonate plant is also planned, which will be supplied with about 20,000 metric tons of EO annually. Here, the recovered CO2 from the main plant is to be reused as a feedstock, thus improving the CO2 balance. Ethylene carbonate is needed as a raw material for the production of lithium-ion batteries as used, for example, in electric cars. A plant for the production of cellulose ether is also planned, which will require up to 10,000 metric tons of EO per year.

 

3. What is ethylene oxide used for?2020-02-07T12:34:47+01:00

The planned main plant will produce high-purity ethylene oxide (EO) from ethylene and oxygen and will have an annual production capacity of approximately 180,000 metric tons. Of this volume, up to 140,000 metric tons will be further processed on site. The remaining tonnage is to be sold to customers elsewhere. The main plant would also produce monoethylene glycol as a by-product. There will be an ancillary facility designed to recover CO2 for enhanced climate protection.
According to current planning, the project comprises not just the main plant but also five other facilities, including several for the production of polyethylene glycols and ethoxylates, which will use around 110,000 metric tons of the ethylene oxide produced here each year. An ethylene carbonate plant is also planned, which will be supplied with about 20,000 metric tons of EO annually. Here, the recovered CO2 from the main plant is to be reused as a feedstock, thus improving the CO2 balance. Ethylene carbonate is needed as a raw material for the production of lithium-ion batteries as used, for example, in electric cars. A plant for the production of cellulose ether is also planned, which will require up to 10,000 metric tons of EO per year.
Find out more >>

4. Where are the building plots on which the facilities are to be constructed?2020-02-07T12:29:13+01:00

The ethylene oxide plant is to be built on the currently open area within the Evonik site between the transformer station and the effluent treatment plant (in the immediate vicinity of the ethylene pipeline). This plot is currently leased to a farmer. A tank farm is also planned in the area of the railway tracks northwest of the planned location of the plant. In the core area of the plant site, additional production facilities are planned for further processing of the ethylene oxide by PCC both alone and in cooperation with partner companies.

5. When is construction expected to start and how long will it take?2020-07-06T13:13:16+01:00

As part of the ongoing project appraisal process, PCC hopes to submit the applications for the plant permits required under the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchV) to Cologne District Council in spring 2022. In the event of a positive approvals outcome and following an undertaking by the financing banks to provide the funding, plant construction could begin in 2023, with a likely completion time of three years.

6. Will PCC be operating all the facilities itself?2020-02-07T12:26:25+01:00

According to current planning, PCC will operate four of the six planned facilities itself and one plant jointly with a partner. The ethylene oxide plant will be operated by PCC, with the production of downstream products also extensively in PCC hands. At the same time, the establishment of several converting companies at the site is being either planned or investigated.

7. What are the links between Evonik and PCC?2020-02-07T12:25:19+01:00

Evonik and PCC have no formal ties? A good business relationship of trust has, however, developed between PCC and Evonik over the years. This relationship is one of the primary reasons for PCC deciding to carefully consider locating its EO operation in Lülsdorf. Evonik is the Lülsdorf site operator. PCC would lease the plots required for its project.

8. What are the aims of PCC in pursuing this project?2020-02-07T12:24:05+01:00

The ethylene oxide plant will secure long-term feedstock supplies to the companies of the PCC Group’s Chemicals division. These use ethylene oxide for, in particular, the manufacture of surfactants and polyols. In addition, PCC plans to invest in the production of ethylene oxide downstream products both in Germany and abroad. The planned project is therefore in line with a number of activities by PCC aimed at further expanding its product portfolio in order to further consolidate the Group’s sound market position in the long term.

9. Why has PCC chosen Lülsdorf as the site for its project?2020-02-07T12:22:45+01:00

PCC has looked at nine potential European locations for its project. In principle, all industrial sites offering a connection to an ethylene network for the supply of raw materials, good transport links and sufficient open space, would qualify as candidates. Lülsdorf meets these criteria and, in Evonik, also has a site operator offering decades of experience in chemical plant operation while also meeting and setting the highest standards in safety and environmental protection. For PCC, the Lülsdorf site is therefore currently the favorite for this investment, which will amount to around 500 million euros.

PCC and Evonik have developed a good business relationship of trust has over the years. This relationship is of the primary reasons for PCC deciding to carefully consider locating its EO operation in Lülsdorf.

10. How many jobs are likely to be created by the project over the long term?2020-02-07T12:21:21+01:00

The planned investment by PCC alone is expected to create 120 new, direct jobs. The total potential with the attraction of further converting companies adds up to 200 jobs.

11. How are the people and the town of Niederkassel likely to benefit from the project?2020-02-07T12:19:56+01:00

The planned investment would increase the attractiveness of the Lülsdorf chemicals site and generally strengthen the prosperity and competitiveness of the region. The planned investment by PCC alone is expected to create 120 new, direct jobs. The total potential with the attraction of further converting companies adds up to 200 jobs. In addition, the investment offers incentives – especially through the modernization of the infrastructure – for further companies to settle at the Lülsdorf site, thus creating even more jobs.

This would make the site as a whole more future-proof, enabling it to continue making an important contribution to regional value creation as the area’s largest employer. The regional economy would not only benefit from the purchasing power of the new employees, but also from additional demand for local suppliers and service providers.

12. What are the primary hazards that ethylene oxide represents?2020-02-07T12:17:43+01:00

Ethylene oxide is one of the basic chemicals used to manufacture everyday products. Like many of these basic chemicals, ethylene oxide is a hazardous substance and its handling is subject to strict safety regulations: Ethylene oxide is classified as an extremely flammable gas; it is toxic by inhalation and causes eye, respiratory and skin irritation on direct contact; it may cause cancer. PCC implements comprehensive safety precautions in the production, storage and transport of ethylene oxide, its feedstocks and its downstream products. These precautionary arrangements are regularly monitored and reviewed by external experts and the competent authorities.

13. What sort of threat to the safety of local residents do the facilities represent?2020-02-07T12:15:47+01:00

The safety of residents and employees in and around all our sites carries the highest priority for PCC. Consequently, the handling of ethylene oxide, as well as that of its feedstocks and downstream products, will be performed under strict and comprehensive safety precautions. The planned facilities are to be built using state-of-the-art technology and with continuous monitoring and maintenance by PCC during their service life. The ethylene oxide plant and tank farm will be closed systems designed specifically to prevent emissions. The facilities will always and only operate under safe conditions, with the plant control system designed to initiate all necessary protective measures, including automatic shutdown, in the event of a fault or exceedance. The planned safety system meets the highest standards, and all important elements are redundant, which means they are present in multiples and mutually independent.

The planned comprehensive safety concept will be regularly reviewed by our own officers at the site and external experts, as well as being monitored by the relevant authorities.

14. Will ethylene oxide be stored on the production site?2020-02-07T12:14:10+01:00

Of a maximum annual production of 180,000 metric tons, only around 2,500 metric tons at most of ethylene oxide would be stored in tanks on the site. These will serve as buffer facilities for the continued supply of the downstream processes. And here too there would be comprehensive safety precautions in place. The tank farm will consist of a series of double-walled underground vessels and will be designed in such a way that no damage to the environment and surroundings can be caused by leaks in their inner wall. Each of the tank shells will be continuously monitored for both temperature and pressure exceedances. With their soil cover, all the tanks offer excellent impact protection, thermal insulation and fire resistance.

15. How are the feedstocks and the finished ethylene oxide product to be transported?2020-02-07T12:11:51+01:00

The primary raw materials for the ethylene oxide plant are ethylene and oxygen. Both will be supplied to the plant supply interface through pipeline links. This is the most environmentally compatible and safest method of transport. The ethylene oxide produced would be transported on the site itself via a newly built ring main. Outside the site, the ethylene oxide would be transported by rail. This would involve using standardized means of transport such as tank wagons and tank containers, which are specially designed, tested and approved for the transport of dangerous goods. Efforts would also be made to transport some raw materials by tanker.

16. Who is responsible for monitoring the safety of the plant complex?2020-02-07T12:10:31+01:00

The planned comprehensive safety concept will be regularly reviewed by our own officers at the site and external experts.

Cologne District Council is responsible for monitoring industrial facilities in the region. As the operator of the chemicals park, Evonik has its own plant security service, a security center, and a plant fire department that are on continuous standby around the clock.

17. What experience does PCC have with ethylene oxide?2020-02-07T12:08:24+01:00

The PCC Group operates ethylene oxide tank farms in Poland, where the regulations governing the handling of hazardous substances are as strict as in Germany. The two subsidiaries PCC Rokita SA and PCC Exol SA have been using ethylene oxide in production for several decades. PCC therefore has extensive experience in the safe handling of this chemical, including storage and transport. Given its wealth of expertise, PCC Rokita SA is providing the personnel for the technical management of the project.

 

18. Have there ever been incidents elsewhere in Germany involving ethylene oxide facilities?2020-02-07T12:06:46+01:00

In Germany there are four other ethylene oxide producing companies and a large number of companies processing ethylene oxide. Incidents are reported to the “Central Reporting and Evaluation Centre for Major Accidents and Faults in Process Engineering Systems” (ZEMA) at the Federal Environment Agency, where they are registered and can be viewed by the public at: https://www.infosis.uba.de/index.php/de/site/12981/zema/index.html

Four incidents involving ethylene oxide (1984, 1995, 2000 and 2016) have been recorded there in recent decades. There were no injuries and the damage incurred was in each case minor to negligible.

19. What adverse effects are to be expected during the construction of the plant?2020-02-07T11:57:38+01:00

The plant complex construction phase, which will take about three years, is expected to give rise to increased traffic volumes due to site vehicles coming and going, and construction operations in general. That said, the nuisance levels arising from this project are not expected to exceed those normally encountered in construction undertakings. The perception of noise beyond the limits of the site will be unavoidable, but every effort will be made to keep this to a minimum. Investigations are also being carried out into the possibility of delivering larger plant components such as tanks by ship directly to the plant site. The construction work is also expected to cause dust emissions. However, these will be minimized by appropriate measures such as water spray humidification of the air and the moistening of construction roads. With this in mind, PCC will be endeavoring right from the planning stage to ensure that impacts on residents and neighbors are limited as far as is reasonably possible.

20. Will there be any change to site production times!2020-02-07T11:53:54+01:00

According to current plans, production times will not change with the new facilities. Already today, the facilities at the Lülsdorf site are largely operated in continuous shift work around the clock, seven days a week.

21. What kind of noise nuisance is likely to come from the new plant operations?2020-02-07T11:51:28+01:00

PCC’s aim is to keep noise to a minimum. The planned complex would be built according to the best, currently valid and proven technical standards in order to meet all legally required emission and immission limits. Noise emissions are further reduced, for example, by installing soundproofing matting on the plants and silencers on rotating equipment.

22. Will there be an increase in light pollution?2020-02-07T11:49:19+01:00

The facilities must be illuminated in accordance with legal requirements, particularly with regard to occupational safety. PCC’s aim is to minimize direct light irradiation toward the surrounding districts.

23. Will there be an increase in traffic volumes?2020-02-07T12:44:59+01:00

The planned new facilities at Lülsdorf will bring an increase in freight traffic. This is because the expansion of production capacities – a factor that will strengthen the site and make it more future-proof – will also mean that more end products will need to be shipped out. PCC is examining all possibilities in order to find the best possible solution for all parties involved and has commissioned its own report on the subject of transport.

24. Who decides on the building approvals / operating permits and who is involved?2020-02-07T11:43:13+01:00

Cologne District Council will handle the examination and decision-making process to determine whether or not construction of the planned facilities can go ahead. Cologne District Council also ensures that relevant public bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in the approval process. These include, for example, other authorities, nature conservation associations, local authorities as well as fire and rescue services.

The approval procedure according to the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchV) must be carried out with public participation by the district council: The application documents are open to the public and every citizen can inspect them. Within a period regulated by law, objections to the planning applications can be submitted to the licensing authority, and these must be taken into account by the licensing authority in its decision.

 

25. What levels of pollution can be expected to come from the facilities?2020-02-07T11:43:46+01:00

Aside from the safety of residents and employees in and around all our sites, environmental protection is of the highest priority for PCC. Wastewater from plant operations is to be processed in the central effluent treatment plant already in place at the site before being discharged into the Rhine. In addition, PCC would install a buffer system that would enable the storage of wastewater in case additional treatment should be required. As the cooling system is to be designed as a closed circuit, no water would be taken from or discharged into the Rhine to cool the facilities.

PCC has commissioned a species protection report to take into account the species protection issues under Section 44 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. All possible impacts on the Rhine as a habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms will also be examined during the preparation of the application documents.

About 80 percent of the CO2 generated during the production of ethylene oxide would be recovered in a secondary plant. The CO2 is then to be reused as a raw material for the production of ethylene carbonates, thereby significantly improving the CO2 balance of the EO plant. Ethylene carbonates are a key component of the electrolytes used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries such as those installed in electric cars.

 

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