Workers ‘gogsori’ in the urea water crisis

▲ Reporter Shin Hoon

As the shortage of urea water continues due to China’s urea export restrictions, workers who operate trucks and construction machines are being pushed to a precipice of livelihood. There are many voices calling for measures to supply and demand urea to protect their right to live.

Freight worker puts his steering wheel on the back of a 10-fold increase in prices

According to the Ministry of Environment on the 7th, 540,000 of the 2.15 million diesel vehicles equipped with a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) are trucks. In Korea, with the introduction of ‘Euro 6’, the European Union’s standard for diesel vehicle emission regulations in 2015, the SCR has become mandatory. In SCR, urea water acts as a catalyst to decompose nitrogen oxides, which are harmful substances, into nitrogen and water. If urea water is not added, the engine will not start or the output will drop.

In the case of medium-large trucks, 10 liters of urea water are required to run 500 to 800 kilometers. The number of urea, which used to cost between 80 and 10,000 won per 10 liters, has recently been traded at around 100,000 won. Even this is hard to find as there is no place that sells it. At auto parts stores and gas stations, a notice stating that urea water is out of stock was posted. Even if you try to purchase urea water directly from a foreign online shopping mall, it takes 2-3 weeks for delivery.

Freight workers are putting themselves at the wheel due to the soaring price of urea. Mr. Kim, a driver of a 7.5-ton truck that mainly travels between Seoul and Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, said, “I stopped by gas stations at highway service stations, but none of them sold urea water. He said, “I use about 200 liters of urea water a month, but if I buy a 10-liter bottle for 100,000 won, there is nothing left.

Suspension of excavator and ready-mixed concrete operation fears paralysis at construction sites

Urea water is also required to operate construction machinery using diesel engines, such as dump trucks, excavators, and concrete mixer trucks (remicon vehicles). Choi Byeong-bok (63), who works as an excavator driver at an apartment construction site in Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do, said, “I woke up with a 10-liter bottle of urea water and it went up to 100,000 won. .

About 14,000 people participated in a post titled ‘Please solve the number of elements problem’, which was posted on the bulletin board of the Blue House on the 1st. Choi pointed out, “If I had only known how to do computers, I would have participated in the petition immediately.”

The urea water crisis is threatening livelihoods. Park Cheol-hwan (56), a ready-mixed concrete engineer with 5 years of experience, said, “I am barely paying off the loan I received when I bought the ready-mixed concrete by 2 million won a month.

If dump trucks and ready-mixed concrete do not supply raw materials in a timely manner, the entire construction site may be paralyzed. An official from the construction union said, “If the construction equipment, which is mainly used in civil works, which is the initial process, stops, the process may be delayed sequentially.” If the site stops, the right to live of daily construction workers may be threatened.

Labor union calls for punishment and remedies

On the 15th of last month, China made it mandatory for pre-export inspection of urea, a raw material for urea water. Urea is produced from ammonia extracted from coal. China has recently banned Australian coal imports due to a trade dispute with Australia. The country’s coal shortages have limited urea exports. As a result, a shortage of urea water occurred in Korea, which produces urea water by importing Chinese urea.

If China does not lift urea export restrictions, the urea water crisis is highly likely to prolong. On the same day, the government held a foreign economic and security strategy meeting, a ministerial-level consultative body, to discuss ways to respond to the urea water shortage. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Environment have begun a review work to convert industrial urea water to vehicles.

The Freight Solidarity Headquarters of the Public Transport Workers’ Union urged the government to penalize stalls of urea water and to come up with a remedy for freight workers who have stopped operating due to lack of urea water. The construction union held a press conference in front of the government complex in Seoul on the 9th to urge the resolution of the shortage of urea water.

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