CICCC Update—14 September 2000 Meeting

 The CICCC is concerned that the promises made by the government to “ensure the highest possible standard of safety and environmental responsibility” at the Terminals’ facility at Coode Island will not be met.

At its meeting on 14 September, the committee resolved to make a formal submission to EPA on the proposals by Terminals Pty Ltd to upgrade their Coode Island site. The submission draws attention to a number of problems with the proposal.

A number of the community representatives on the CICCC are strongly opposed to Terminals’ facility remaining at Coode Island. There is considerable further concern that the consolidation of the Terminals site to land to the west of Mackenzie Road (as required by the State Government) will increase health and safety risks for the Footscray community.

While the proposal for the Stage 1 redevelopment on the old BP site provides for fire-fighting vehicle access to each tank, the layouts for Stages 2 and 3 do not provide the same level of access. The Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board commented on this deficiency at the time of the 1991 explosion and fires. The proposals for Stages 2 and 3 are clearly inadequate in this respect, and do not constitute “the highest possible standard”.

The Committee is concerned that Terminals Pty Ltd has not provided clear information about how the upgrade will reduce the risk of another incident like the 1991 explosion and fires. The Committee is also concerned to know whether the upgrade will address the causes of the numerous ethyl acrylate releases at site. Terminals Pty Ltd reported that they had been fined $5,000 by EPA for another accidental release of ethyl acrylate during the last month.

No information on the potential health and safety impacts of the proposal on the local community has been included in the Works Approval application. EPA will refer the application to the Department of Human Services (DHS), who can comment on the health implications of the proposal, and constrain EPA from issuing an approval if they have concerns about the health risks. The CICCC calls on the EPA to ensure adequate information is provided to both DHS and the public about health risks.

Notwithstanding the assurances provided by Terminals Pty Ltd, the committee has ongoing concerns about the use of “combustors” to incinerate vapour emissions from the facility. The committee calls on EPA to provide clear advice concerning the best combination of vapour emission controls to achieve “the highest possible standard of safety and environmental responsibility” and to require that advice to be followed.

The committee also has concerns about the offsite treatment of contaminated wastes, especially since press reports about the closure of the Sydney treatment facility. Is “cradle to grave” auditing possible when contaminated materials are transported inter-state?

An EPA conference on the proposal has been scheduled for 3 October 2000. The committee calls on EPA to ensure that the conference is not just a passive recitation of the submissions already lodged, but that the information gaps highlighted in the CICCC’s submission are addressed, and the additional information made public, prior to the conference.

The full text of the CICCC submission can be found on the committee’s web site (

The next CICCC meeting will be held on Thursday 12 October 2000. Terminals will make a presentation to the Committee on the contribution that the propylene oxide storage makes to the overall risk profile of the facility. 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 6.30pm.

Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 16 September 2000