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CICCC Update—10 June 2004 Meeting

Butadiene storage proposal

At its meeting on 10 June 2004, the Committee expressed concern at the possibility of Butadiene, a highly toxic, extremely flammable gas, being stored under pressure at Coode Island. DOW Chemical (Aust) Ltd has sought tenders from Terminals and Marstel for storage of a large quantity of Butadiene, following the decision by Qenos at Altona to cease making the chemical. Members support the action of the City of Maribyrnong, which strongly opposes Butadiene storage at Coode Island.

George Horman, Australian General Manager for Terminals confirmed that his company had submitted a tender based on storage at its Geelong facility, He explained that the Geelong site had adequate room for tank separation, and had adequate buffer distance to the nearest residential areas. Butadiene transport to industry in Altona from the Geelong facility would not involve trips through residential areas. George told the Committee that he considered the proposal to store Butadiene at Coode Island “dumb”.

The Committee resolved to write to John Brumby, Minister for Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, and Rob Hulls, Minister for Workcover, stating its concern and calling on the Government to undertake an integrated environmental and safety study prior to further consideration of the proposal. Community representative Ian Thomas said “The only approval process open to any meaningful public consultation is the EPA Works Approval, which deals with pollution issues. It is essential that before any approvals are given, full consultation is undertaken with the community based on a clear understanding of the safety issues, which can only come following a quantified risk assessment.”

Occupational Health and Safety Act review

Mr Bob Stensholt, MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury and Finance, told the Committee about the review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act undertaken by Chris Maxwell QC. Bob provided a useful summary of the main recommendations made in the Maxwell Report. These included:

  • requiring WorkCover officers to provide more guidance to companies, rather than taking the attitude “It’s your problem. . .”;
  • having all WorkCover’s powers consolidated in one Act;
  • treating the risk of incidents equally with actual incidents; and
  • bringing the Act up-to-date with how the courts handle risk.

Community member Deborah Macfarlane explained to Bob that the interests of the community had been largely ignored. “Health and safety from major facilities such as Coode Island affect the surrounding communities” said Deborah. “The Act must guarantee proper consultation with the community during the approval process and subsequent operation of facilities. WorkCover and companies must be open with the public about the health and safety risks posed by facilities.”

The Committee resolved to make a submission on the Review.

Phenol storage proposal on hold

Terminals advised the meeting that the Phenol storage proposal was on hold. Huntsman had decided to store phenol with Marstel at its new Coode Island facility. George Horman told the Committee that Terminals’ proposals were on hold, rather than abandoned. “There may be other interest for phenol storage in the chemical industry” George said.

Next meeting of the CICCC

The next meeting of the CICCC will be held on Thursday 5 August, 2004 at the Maribyrnong Town Hall on the corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray at 6.30 pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting. The Committee will review Terminals’ Improvement Action Report, and Bronwyn Brookman-Smith of WorkSafe will make a presentation on the report by Sweeney Research on the WorkSafe safety regime.

Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 17 June 2004