CICCC Update—14 June 2001 Meeting

Delay to upgrade causes community anxiety

Community and Environment Groups members of the CICCC called upon the Bracks Government to stop procrastinating over deciding the future leaseholder of the former BP site, which is critical to upgrading facilities on Coode Island

Members said anxiety was increasing in the community as the upgrading of Coode Island has now effectively been on hold since the end of February.

Government officers at the meeting were unable to shed any light on when the Government might make a decision on whether Terminals or Marstel would be given the right to develop hazardous chemicals storages on the BP site.

If Marstel are chosen, the community will go from having a reasonably detailed knowledge of what is proposed for the BP site to having only a very sketchy knowledge of what is proposed and how it will interact with storage on the existing Terminals site. There is great concern that there could be up to two years’ delay in the upgrading of the facilities.

While members have expressed clear concerns about aspects of the Terminals’ proposal, and particularly the movement of the propylene oxide tanks closer to the community, they have at least been aware of the details of the proposal for some time. The current situation, by contrast, is highly uncertain.

“This is a mess of the Government’s creation. It is now only two months short of the tenth anniversary of the Coode Island fires. It is way beyond time for the Government to stop dithering around and make a clear decision so the community at least knows where it stands.” the members said.

EPA Licence change requires $1.2 million investment in new scrubber

At its meeting on 14 June, the Committee was advised by EPA that they have amended Terminals licence to require the installation of an improved scrubber for acrylate vapour control. The $1.2 million multi-staged caustic scrubber will be connected first to ethyl acrylate, the source of recent odour complaints and fines. Within a year all acrylates will be connected to the new vapour emission control plant. The Committee heard of other improvements to eliminate odours. These include closed sampling and collection of vapours from ships during the loading of export products.

Toxic spill in Maribyrnong

Details of the 100 litre cumene (isopropyl benzene) spill on 9 June were tabled at the meeting. The spill to the Maribyrnong River occurred while the Bow Sky (Odfjell Line) chemical tanker was unloading at Coode Island. Cumene is flammable and is toxic to marine life. The Australian Maritime and Safety Authority has issued a defect notice and investigations are proceeding with a view to enforcement.

Emergency response—community notification systems

The community alert system, initiated by Terminals in response to community concerns, was in operation during the cumene spill. An announcement was made on radio station 3WRB 97.4 FM, advising the community of the spill and the attendance of emergency services.

The Committee heard about the Kwinana (near Perth) community alert system, which can reach 3600 people per hour by phone, providing details of emergency situations and what residents should do. This system is attracting national and international interest.

CICCC invites representatives of chemical companies to attend the next meeting

The Committee has invited the Mr John Cockshott, Co-ordinator of the Victorian Chemical Manufacturers Bulk Storage Group (VCMBSG) to attend the next meeting of the CICCC on 12 July 2001. The VCMBSG is made up five major chemical companies that currently have chemicals stored by Terminals on Coode Island. It is the group that asked Marstel to put in an alternative bid to government for use of the BP site.

Next meeting of the CICCC

Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting at the Maribyrnong Town Hall on the corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray at 6.30 pm. Other items on the agenda include a presentation of the 6-monthly WorkCover audit at Terminals facility, and presentation of findings of the Safety Case Pilot Study on acrylonitrile and propylene oxide.

Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 21 June 2001