How to repair a power plant in Belarus?

We bring you an interview with Ján Hromádka, supervisor of the Moravia Systems service team and chief technician of service work during a shutdown at the Orshanskaya power plant in Belarus.

We have already written an article about this work HERE.

What like it was or you as a supervisor to carry out service work on a power plant which is more than 20 years old? Moreover during the civil unrest and pandemic of coronavirus in Belarus?

I have visited the TEC Orshanskaya power plant three times in the last year. I completed the first two trips by air and the last by car together with two colleagues for whom it was firts visit of Belarus. The first two trips involved inspections of valves on both units of the steam-gas power plant before the repairs of the valves which we changed just at the last trip. We chose our own car due to the need to transport our service tools necessary for performing work activities in power plant. This turned out to be a right choice. Without the technical equipment that we brought with us it wouldn´t be possible to revise the given number of valves in the required quality.

Before the trip (lasted about 20 hours) we had to pass a test of coronavirus. It is a main condition for not staying in the quarantine in Belarus. We checked in advance what is needed to perform the work and we equipped all permits such as work visa, ATA Carnet for customs clearance of imported tools, insurance, permission to drive a car, sending a description of our professional skills for working in the power plant, electronic toll equipment and many more.

Ján Hromádka, supervisor of the Moravia Systems service team
Ján Hromádka, supervisor of the Moravia Systems service team
What was different about working in Belarus than working on our power plants?

Working hours tarted at 7:30 a.m. for us and ended at least at 6:00 p.m., 6 days a week except Sunday. Daily writing of a work report which summarizes what was done on a given day, what will happen next day and how many local staff and expertises we will need was preceded the work. This work report was subsequently consulted with the management of the power plant.

What was bothering you and what surprised you pleasantly?

Every start of work in a foreign environment is complicated. It was necessary to minimize the transfer times between the power plant units, the workshop, the spare parts warehouse and the office. We managed to solve this by allowing a car to enter the power plant area, which is not a matter of course there, and even the local employees do not remember that someone would just succeed.

How was the communication with the employees of the power plant and the partners of Ethos Energy company?

Ethos Energy employees communicate in English or German; more or less we met mainly in the office as everyone does a different job. They of the turbine and we the valves. So we moved independently around the power plant with Russian-speaking Belarusian workers. Here I used the knowledge of Russian language from primary, secondary school and partly even from university, without which the course of all communication and work would be complicated. The local people, and I do not just mean the workers in the power plant, look at a person who speaks "their" language and script in a completely different way than other "gringo". They are happy and let to know.

Did you also see anything interesting outside the power plant? How do you perceive the current atmosphere in the country?

During the trip to Orsha along the local expressways one does not come into contact with the locals, apart from visiting gas stations. When having coffee at the gas station, man speaks a few sentences with the locals. The character of comunication is mostly of "where we are from, where we are going and what we will do there".

In Orsha which is located about 50 km from the border with the Russian Federation the population usually communicates in Russian. People are communicative, unobtrusive and try to help when asked. For example, in the evening I went alone on foot to a far supermarket. I just wanted to make sure I was going in the right direction by reaching a random pedestrian. He not only showed me the way, but made a guide through the city to the supermarket. His teaching profession was not denied in him.

What awaits our service team on the next trip to the Orsha power plant?

The contract of Moravia Systems with Ethos Energy company for the work of our technicians in TEC Orshanskaya is signed until 2028. For each year individual types of inspections are planned at individual units of the power plant, namely of type A and B inspections where these are mainly visual and functional tests and inspections of type C where repairs and revisions will be performed on individual valves. During the last type C inspection we performed a revision of the valves on unit A and a revision of the common valves for units A and B. Type A and B inspections are now planned, followed by a type C inspection on unit B.