Marathon refineries operating despite COVID-19 cases

Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Galveston Bay Refinery and three Houston-area refineries continue operating amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, said sources familiar with operations at the plants.

As many as 100 people have come down with COVID-19 at Marathon’s Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, since the disease’s U.S. outbreak in late January, sources familiar with plant operations said on Thursday.

Most of those infected were contractors working within the plant, with some employees also catching the disease, the sources said. The refinery has had as many 5,000 people on site while performing a multi-unit overhaul that began in late May.

In addition to requiring social distancing in the workplace and mandating wearing masks while working within 6 feet (1.8 m) of another person, refiners require temperature checks before entering their plants, among other precautions.

Houston has emerged as a hotspot for COVID-19’s return in the past month. Harris and Galveston counties have recorded 45,000 cases out of 230,000 across the state.

]A total of 53 people, including 14 employees, have been confirmed as having COVID-19 at Lyondell Basell’s Houston refinery, according to sources familiar with that plant’s operations. The other 39 cases are contractors.

At Lyondell, another 27 employees are quarantined for the disease.

Lyondell spokeswoman Chevalier Gray declined to disclose the number of those infected.

“None of the cases resulted from an event or exposure of any employee to COVID-19 in the workplace,” Gray said.

At Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Deer Park, Texas, refinery, nine COVID-19 cases were confirmed this week bringing the total for the year to 50, said company spokesman Curtis Smith.

Three employees and two contractors have caught the disease since January at Chevron’s Corp’s Pasadena, Texas, refinery, said sources familiar with operations at the plant.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Leslie AdlerAnd Tom Brown

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