Coode Island Committee Update
The benzene vapour emissions from Terminals’ facility at Coode Island has been about 7,000 to 9,000 kilograms per annum. The upgrade proposed in late 2000 by Terminals included improvements to reduce this amount to 202 kg/annum. EPA granted a Works Approval in December 2000 for the upgrade, and required Terminals to spend an additional $1 million to reduce the benzene emissions to 90 kg/annum.
Since then the Government has agreed to consider a proposal from Marstel for chemical storage on the old BP site at Coode Island, and it does not appear Terminals will be handling benzene or propylene oxide in the longer term. Marstel’s Works Approval application involves vapour return from tanks to ship during unloading, and other measures. Marstel estimates emissions of benzene of only 2 kg/annum.
The huge reduction in benzene emissions described above was of particular interest to the Committee. EPA’s preliminary analysis indicates that the Marstel proposal largely avoids vapour discharge from the storage tanks to the combuster, while resulting in similar volumes of vapours in the tanks of the ships being unloaded. Some Committee members remained sceptical about whether Marstel can achieve such low emissions, and seek to scrutinise the detailed modelling undertaken by Marstel’s consultants.
Community members questioned EPA about the commitments by Government to “the highest possible standard of safety and environmental responsibility” that were made when the Government announced in February 2000 that the Terminals’ facility would remain at Coode Island. Community members wanted to know why Terminal’s upgrade proposal did not meet the low limits now proposed by Marstel.
EPA responded by drawing a distinction between the upgrading of an old facility, and building a new facility.
The community members remained unconvinced by EPA’s response, and drew EPA’s attention to an existing benzene storage facility in Houston (cited in the Marstel Works Approval application), where vapour return to ships was part of the design.
Terminals’ Vapour Emissions Control System (VECS) upgrade
Terminals have now signed a 20 year lease agreement with Melbourne Ports Corporation for the B-West and C-West sites on Coode Island. On the basis of this secure tenure, and as required by government, they are moving towards a major upgrade of the facility.
$4.3 million will be spent on improving vapour emission control. Two combustors will be built, and ducting will be installed throughout the site to collect organic vapour emissions and pipe them to the combustors. The system will also include the present benzene tanks on the east side of Mackenzie Road, although it is anticipated that these tanks will be taken out of service six months after the upgrade is completed.
EPA approval to the upgrade was given prior to Christmas 2001, and Terminals expect to finalise contracts for the upgrade shortly.
Acrylate tank upgrade program
All eleven tanks on B-West and C-West storing acrylates (flammable materials) will be upgraded in the next year, at an estimated cost of $3.5 million. The tanks will be lifted and an impervious liner will be placed beneath each tank. Nitrogen blanketing will be provided to all the tanks to decrease the risk of fire. The pressure rating of the tanks, and the pressure level at which the safety valves will operate, will be increased. This will result in a decrease of emissions of acrylates from the safety valves.
After the acrylate tanks have been upgraded, the remaining tanks storing flammable liquids will be progressively upgraded.
Audits at Coode Island
EPA advised the CICCC that it had undertaken a compliance assessment at Terminals’ facility, checking against licence requirements. Only two minor breaches were found.
WorkSafe will conduct its next 6-monthly audit at the facility in the last week of February 2002.
Styrene leak at Coode Island.
A 1000 litre leak of Styrene (used for making fibreglass) from Tank 26 at the Terminals B-West site has been discovered. The tank has been taken out of service, and the remaining contents transferred to another tank. The leak appears to have come from a tiny corrosion hole in the floor of the tank, where several steel plates meet. The earth beneath the tank has been excavated to recover the spilt Styrene. “We think we discovered the problem early enough to prevent the Styrene spreading and reaching the water table” George Horman, the Terminals’ Victorian Manager told the Committee.
Congratulations to Commander Trevor Perkins
The Emergency Services and Metropolitan Fire Board representative on the CICCC, Commander Trevor Perkins, has been awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal. The CICCC extended its congratulations to Trevor.
Next meeting of the CICCC
Members of the public are welcome to attend the next meeting of the CICCC on Thursday 14th March 2002 at the Maribyrnong Town Hall on the corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray at 6.30 pm.
Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 20 February 2002