Enel Generación condemns serious dangers in Bocamina seizure

Published on Saturday, 23 April 2022

Coronel, April 23, 2022 - A group of contract workers from Enel Generación's Bocamina power plant (350 MW) have been blocking the access and occupying the facility since April 12, forcing the plant to halt operations. In the early hours of Thursday, April 21, the situation worsened when the demonstrators escalated their protest by further blocking access to the plant with incendiary barricades, forcing our security personnel to leave the premises.

A skeleton operational team had managed to remain in the plant to keep it secure, carrying out specialized monitoring duties on critical systems that could be at risk. However, given the increasingly violent protests and to protect the safety of personnel, workers were forced to abandon their posts on Friday, leaving the demonstrators in complete control of the plant.

"Even though the stoppage of the plant affects us directly and the contract workers' demands are directly related to the State's management of the Fair Energy Transition Strategy, we have been patient and have supported the government's efforts in recent days to achieve a peaceful solution. Unfortunately, because of the intransigence of the protesters, the situation is now completely out of control, and other types of measures are called for," said Enel Generación's CEO, James Lee Stancampiano.

There are hazardous substances on the industrial site, such as flammable gas dispensers, chemical products, coal storage dumps, and other operating supplies, which, without proper handling and monitoring, could have catastrophic consequences for the safety of the protesters and environment. The dangerous materials may also cause fires inside the plant, affecting both our facilities and the community.

We have asked the authorities to intervene and stop the criminal acts of individuals who have forcefully taken control of infrastructure critical for the whole country. On Friday, April 22, some of the coal in storage showed signs of combustibility, which could pose a fire hazard if not addressed in a timely fashion and compromise the safety of the facility and the residents of Coronel and the surrounding area. We alerted the Fire Department and Carabineros police force and formally alerted the authorities about this high-risk situation.

Responses to contract workers' demands

The protesters' requests for health check-ups and medical and financial coverage have always been met following prevailing regulations. Contractors' employers informed us that their workers fall under epidemiological surveillance programs according to their function within the operation.

The contractors have informed their workers that they can receive training and have been offered the possibility of reinsertion into the workforce. However, the same workers who are staging the violent protests have not yet submitted a list of the people who would be eligible for such training.

Contract workers leading this strike are alleging non-compliance with health check-ups and epidemiological surveillance programs. ENEL's responde is that there are such programs and have always been provided by contractors. They are also demanding the payment of a 1,000 UF bonus per worker. This demand for an economic compensation package is not aligned with the solutions proposed by other stakeholders with which Enel works in the Coronel municipality, nor with the objectives and challenges posed for companies that must decommission their coal-fired generation units. We understand that in this matter, the State is responsible for providing any support necessary to support this process.

Enel assumed the responsibility for relocating its employees and provided them with special retirement plans. However, under the Just Energy Transition Strategy published by the Energy Ministry last December, the State is responsible for fostering employment opportunities, mediation in labor disputes, providing training to the affected population, offering incentives for local hires and supporting local enterprises.

This week, the Energy Ministry spearheaded negotiations with the contractor workers involved in the takeover of the plant to search for the best alternatives and solutions to ensure a suitable labor transition process once the operations of Bocamina II are terminated. However, the negotiations were unsuccessful due to the intransigence of the protesters.

Given the above, we have been forced to take legal action and request that the authorities urgently adopt the necessary measures to ensure that public order is restored and that continued energy supply is guaranteed for a substantial segment of the country's population. The serious events that are taking place at the Bocamina Power Plant must be brought to a swift end. We have repeatedly condemned these illegal acts of force, which are only causing harmful economic, social and emotional effects on the population.