History of the facility, and improvements since 1996



Coode Island lies between Footscray Road, the Maribyrnong River, the Yarra River, and Swanson Dock within the boundary of the City of Melbourne. The closest residential area is across the river in the City of Maribyrnong which is located on the west side of Whitehall Street, Yarraville and Hyde Street Footscray – about 800 metres from the island.

Terminals Pty Ltd owns and operates a bulk liquid hazardous chemical storage facility on land leased from the Port of Melbourne Corporation. The Terminal receives products by road and ship discharges, and then stores them in tanks. The chemicals are then dispatched either by bulk road tankers, in 1000 litre intermediate bulk containers (IBC’s), or exported in by ship. Many of the chemicals are used in the production of products including paints, plastics, lubricating oils, detergents, pharmaceuticals and health care products. It is classified as a Major Hazard Facility (MHF) by WorkSafe.

Products stored at Terminals Pty Ltd

Products handled by Terminals Pty ltd facility at Coode Island fall into three main groups based on their Dangerous Goods Classification, and on their potential to produce off-site effects. In decreasing order of potential, they are:

  • Flammable Liquids e.g. Ethanol, Acetone
  • C1 Combustible liquids e.g. Solvent S150
  • C2 Combustible liquids e.g. Base Oils, Tallow, Canola.


1991 A site owned by Terminals Pty Ltd was involved in a serious explosion which destroyed the storage area. A cloud of smoke and chemicals resulting from the explosion spread to the city. On 27 August 1991 the then Premier appointed the Coode Island Review Panel (CIRP) to make recommendations to Government on the longer term storage of hazardous chemicals at port facilities.
1992 In March the following year the CIRP released its final report and recommended that port handling and storage of bulk liquid hazardous chemicals be relocated to West Point Wilson. The Government accepted this recommendation. From 1993 to 1997 successive governments spent in excess of $10 million on studies associated with the planning of the new site, through the preparation of an Environment Effects Statement, and the selection of a company to build and operate the facility.
1997 Victorian Government announced that the proposed chemical storage facility at Point Lillias would not proceed. The Minister for Planning and Local Government, Robert Maclellan, said the Government was satisfied that Coode Island was operating safely and within all recognised standards. A taskforce comprising the Health and Safety division of the Victorian WorkCover Authority, the Environment Protection Authority and the Melbourne Port Corporation was convened to secure its long-term management.
1998 In August 1998 the Government accepted the finding of the Taskforce that the levels of risk defined by Victorian, national and international criteria, were acceptable.
The government wished to consolidate bulk chemical storage to the west side of Mackenzie Road, and lease the area east of Mackenzie Road presently occupied by Terminals Pty Ltd (Terminals) to P&O Ports for container handling and storage. Terminals were offered the lease of the old BP site west of Mackenzie Road, and were requested to prepare plans for the relocation of tanks from east of Mackenzie Road to the old BP site.The Government recognised that the propylene oxide tanks east of Mackenzie Road and other tanks had not reached the end of their useful life, and offered Terminals $11 million to assist in the relocation/rebuilding of the tanks. Terminals were required to meet the highest standards of health and safety with the redevelopment, and obtain approvals from EPA and WorkCover.

The CICCC negotiated with Terminals to achieve an extended period of consultation on the plans being developed for the relocation of tanks to the BP site, and improvements to Sites B and C west of Mackenzie Road, prior to the Works Approval application being lodged. This process broke new ground for a Works Approval, and provided opportunity for full discussion of alternative layouts.

While the CICCC as a whole did not oppose the redevelopment, some members believed that moving the propylene oxide tanks closer to the Maribyrnong River, and further north, and hence closer to residential and other development near the Maribyrnong River, increased the risk to residents. Terminals and the EPA believed that moving of the propylene oxide tanks made no significant difference to the risk beyond the site boundary. The risks associated with the propylene oxide tanks were primarily to the uses on Coode Island.

The extent of community concern resulted in one of the CICCC community members lodging an appeal to VCAT which was supported in part by one other community member and the Combined Environment Groups.

2001 In February 2001 EPA approved the Works Approval application, imposing conditions that would significantly improve the safety and environmental performance of the facility. While as a “green fields” site, the old BP site would be constructed to very high standards, the B and C West sites involved incremental improvements to existing tanks.

As Terminals were unable to secure long term contracts, the Government revoked the right of Terminals to develop the BP site.

Terminals have secured storage agreements with BASF, Orica and Rohm & Haas. Their products are stored on Terminals’ existing sites west of Mackenzie Rd.

2002 On 14 March 2002, the EPA issued a new licence to Terminals requiring upgrading of the plant including providing a new combustion (incinerator) system to control vapour emissions. The licence conditions are similar to those in the works approval previously issued in February 2001. The EPA did not require further public consultation (although Terminals did outline its proposals to the CICCC).

No portion of the $11 million government assistance for upgrades was offered to Terminals Pty Ltd.

2006 As of early 2006 Terminals has consolidated all of its storage on the west side of Mackenzie road and is now well advanced on a major refurbishment of tanks, lines, foundations, gantries and instrumentation.


The CICCC had, until recently, continuing concerns about the lack of adequate emergency communication procedures for residents. Terminals and the CICCC commenced developing a community alert plan involving community radio 3WRB-974 FM. As a result of continued pressure by the CICCC on the issue of communication to residents about emergency procedures, the Government funded a major study on the issue. The project was primarily managed by the Office of Emergency Services Commissioner, however the Maribyrnong City Council was a lead stakeholder and the collaboration between the two organisations has enabled a comprehensive process of community consultation and engagement that formed the basis for an integrated (and sustainable) community alert and information system.

Following the Canberra bushfires, the Commonwealth Government has funded the refinement and delivery of an integrated computer based system for community alerts through the telephone network, and the system is now being used in Victoria by the emergency services.


Since 2002, successive Environment Improvement Plans (EIP) have been prepared by Terminals Pty Ltd. The plans set out a timetable for the progressive improvement of the facility. Details of the plans are provided below.

All items from the first EIP (2002 to 2004) are complete.

Some of the major achievements include:

  • commissioning of majority of stages of combustor treatment unit, ie new vapour emission control system;
  • upgrading of acrylate storage tanks and loading systems to sealed systems;
  • fitting high density polyethylene impermeable liners under tank floor as tanks were renovated;
  • implementing new exchanger area for Plant C and for acrylates;
  • installing waste minimisation pipework for acrylate storage tanks; and
  • installing backup emergency power supply for combustors and critical equipment.

This EIP concluded at end of 2004.  A new EIP was developed for the following four years to the end of 2008.  The status of the second EIP is summarised below.

Year Total Number Completed
2005 to 2008 62 60

Some of the major achievements include:

  • installing five roofs and drainage systems over truck fills and exchanger areas to minimise waste by segregating rain water; 2/2008
  • refurbishing all tanks at Plant C expansion and upgrading their foundations;2009
  • refurbishing all tanks at Plant B combustible area and upgrading their foundations; 2012
  • upgrading pumps, pipework, loading systems for above Plant B and C tank upgrades;2012
  • installing waste minimisation pipework for above Plant B and C tank upgrades;2005
  • installing emergency lighting for Plant B;12/2005
  • decommissioning, demolishing and remediating east side facilities;10/2007
  • shutting down boiler and carbon bed VECS on east side facilities;1/2005
  • all flammable storage tanks are vented to the combustor;2010
  • phenol tank is vented to the combustor;
  • all flammable tanks have high pressure alarms as well as high level alarms;12/08
  • all tanks at Plant C are connected through hard piped exchanger areas;12/08
  • combustor temperature set point has been lowered to 750 C;
  • domestic waste is connected to the sewer;5/07
  • install clay liner for Plant C tank compound floor  6/2006
  • received new accredited EPA licence with the leaving of the east side;
  • installed & commissioned automatic PSH recovery systems at Plants B & C;
  • installed above ground drainage system with pump filters instead of sediment & litter traps; 5/07
  • maintenance manual updated;
  • Plant B bottom loading commissioned for  Plant B flammable tanks; 12/08
  • removed old Plant B top loading gantry;
  • all flammable road tanker loading vented to combustor; 12/2012
  • topics from 1st EIP underwent an effectiveness  evaluation study;
  • Plant A groundwater monitoring completed.

This EIP concluded at end of 2008 and the remaining two actions were carried over to the next EIP.  A new third EIP was developed for the following four years to the end of 2012 followed by a fourth EIP from 2013 to 2016. The status of the fourth EIP is summarised below.

Year Total Number Completed
2009 to 2012 20 16
2013 to 2016 25 2

Major achievements so far include:

  • All Plant B tanks are now connected to sealed truck loading
  • Automatic shutdown of dilute systems after ten minutes when not being used.
  • All tanks at Plant B have new fill lines.
  • All flammable tanks at Plant B are connected through hard piped exchanger areas.
  • Burning of waste now includes aqueous combustible waste stream.
  • Last remaining tanks at Plant B to be renovated were completed in 2012.
  • East side assessment review completed and EPA agrees with auditor to cease monitoring.

Major changes to site

 The upgrade program from the last few years was basically completed in 2012-13 with all new infrastructure in place and tank upgrades complete.

The only upgrade item left is upgrading the bunds and installing the clay liner in Plant B bunds. This will be completed over the next 2 years. The project was held up due to discussions with MFB on how best to handle a bund fire scenario. The agreed upgrade to the fire system to combat a bund fire remotely will be also done at the same time as the bund upgrades. This is an extra outside of the original lease upgrades.


Some of the major achievements include:
All chemical tanks are now connected to sealed truck loading. 3/2005
Automatic shutdown of dilute systems after ten minutes when not being used. 3/2005
All chemical tanks are now connected to sealed truck loading. 4/2009
All tanks have new fill lines. 12/2012
Individual High Level Tank alarms connected to radios. 12/2013
All flammable tanks are connected through hard piped exchanger areas. Plant C
Plant B
Burning of waste now includes aqueous combustible waste stream. 12/2009
East side assessment review completed and EPA agrees with auditor to cease monitoring 9/2010
Addition of remote activated foam pourers to internal bunds at Plant B 7/2015
Plant B bund liner upgrade and removal of underground drains 5/2015
Automated site alarms relayed over 2 way radio system to operators
4 gas detectors fitted to plant
Additional tank to tank transfer high level alarm shutdown system
New bund for portable slops tank