(Adds Valero statement; background)
HOUSTON, March 19 (Reuters) - An employee at Valero Energy Corp’s Meraux, Louisiana, refinery tested positive for the coronavirus, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Valero is following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for cleaning up the individual’s work area. Fellow employees were informed on Thursday about the infected employee, the sources said.
Valero spokeswoman Lillian Riojas said the company “will not publicize individual cases of COVID-19” to protect employee privacy.
“Our pandemic response in the case of a positive test, however, include compliance and cooperation with the Center for Disease Control and local health authorities, deep cleaning or sterilization of affected areas, communicating with employees in ‘close contact’ with the affected employees followed by implementation of appropriate quarantines, communication with our employees at the site, and, most importantly support of all affected employees,” Riojas said.
She declined to discuss the status of operations at the 125,000 barrel-per-day Meraux refinery, which the sources said continues to operate.
About 300 people are employed at the refinery, located southeast of New Orleans along the Mississippi River.
The sources did not know if other workers at the refinery were required to go into quarantine because of exposure to the virus.
This is the second case of a U.S. refinery employee testing positive for the coronavirus.
On March 11, an employee at Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Los Angeles refinery, the largest in California, tested positive for the virus. The employee and several colleagues who worked nearby were quarantined. (Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Chris Reese, Tom Brown and Dan Grebler)