Liquid terminals are a critical logistics link in getting liquid products – like gasoline, diesel, chemicals, and liquid foods – into the hands of the ultimate consumer. The vital nature of liquid terminals has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governments deemed terminal workers – and many of the workers responsible for transporting products to and from terminals – essential employees. Some may ask why?
The reason is simple, especially when viewed in light of a global health crisis. Without terminals, there is no way of ensuring adequate supplies of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel so that emergency supplies and food can be delivered by plane or truck, and emergency personnel can travel to work. Without terminals, we can’t manufacture sterile surgical gowns, masks, the N95 respirators, IV lines, and intubation equipment. All of these products are made from petrochemicals, derived from oil and gas, and stored and transported through terminals.
Because of the crucial role terminals play, ILTA’s members worked diligently to safely continue with their vital operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, even while they took precautions to protect workers and contractors.
ILTA members took a number of actions to ensure that their personnel are protected, and operations continue safely. For instance, they followed government and CDC recommendations for practicing personal hygiene and social distancing, and followed guidance on healthy operations of terminals, including at ports and harbours and at truck loading racks. Company plans were also developed and updated to minimise health risks and ensure operations continued safely. Members also stayed in close contact with fellow terminal operators (in order to exchange information on best practices for continued operations and worker safety) and with regulators and other federal, state and local government officials to exchange information, identify challenges and resolve issues to ensure continued safe operations, critical to COVID-19 response. Members also worked with allied industry, such as truck drivers and fuel distributors, either directly or through ILTA, to confront challenges presented during the pandemic to ensure safe, efficient operations and protect the health of all employees and contractors.
The pandemic also presented challenges to ILTA as an organisation, and it forced us to find new ways to communicate and find solutions for our members. Among other things, ILTA began a weekly terminal operators call to allow terminal members to hear the latest updates on industry responses to COVID-19. We created a dedicated webpage with links to government sites, industry pandemic preparedness plans and other resources, as well as an online Peer Exchange site to allow terminal company professionals to post questions, respond to posts from others, and to share availability of newly released documents, upcoming webinars, or other resources relevant to the tank terminal industry.
Another major challenge was our conference and trade show, which was originally slated for June. In mid-April, ILTA opted to shift the dates to 16 – 18 November. We based this decision on what we heard from our members and our exhibitors, and we’re confident this is the best way for ILTA to serve the industry during these unprecedented times. Safety is always a priority for our industry, and our decision to shift the event to later this year is guided by that. You can learn more or register for ILTA 2020 on our website: www.ilta.org.
I’m extremely proud of ILTA’s members – and the entire terminal community – and all their workers for the important contribution they have made to keep vital supplies flowing during extremely difficult times. I join in wishing all communities safety and health as the situation continues to evolve, and I hope to see you all in Houston in November.