LIMA — Live fire drills. Hazard identification. A broad overview of the Lima Refinery’s operations and the science that makes it work: The latest class of Lima Refinery process operator trainees are undergoing eight weeks of intensive training to learn how the 135-year-old refinery operates.
Process operators play a critical role operating and maintaining equipment in the plant’s chemical and petroleum operating areas, accounting for roughly 35% of the Lima Refinery’s 450 employees.
Cenovus Energy, which acquired the Lima Refinery in January, conducted a months-long search for new operators, which ended in June when 14 new process operators started basic training.
“They have to understand how each piece of equipment works,” said Michelle Shoemaker, a trainer and former process operator who has worked for the Lima Refinery for 23 years.
Shoemaker added, “You’ve got to know the process so that you can say: That’s not normal.”
Operators are hired in groups, allowing the refinery to train operators simultaneously.
Trainees must first pass a background check and prove physical fitness, demonstrating their ability to climb ladders and stairs while carrying heavy equipment and wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus.
Basic training then begins in earnest, starting with an overview of the refinery and progressing through weeks of safety training, live fire drills, fall prevention, emergency response protocols and other occupational safety hazards.
Experts are brought in to discuss the science behind the refinery’s pumps, vessels, towers and environmental performance.
Once trainees complete basic training in August, they will undergo another four to eight weeks of additional training in their assigned units.