Coode Island Committee Update

The Kensington Association organised an Emergency Management Forum at Kensington on 6 October, 1999. Like the earlier Coode Island Community Forum, held last May in Footscray, the purpose of the forum was to bring the community’s concerns to the relevant authorities, and to provide a forum where the authorities could advise the community about emergency management planning. The need for good communication during an emergency was raised. It was suggested that a siren, similar to the one used at the Altona complex, would be one means of communicating an emergency.

Acting Inspector with the Victorian Police, David Blencowe, told the forum that emergencies were now communicated by a range of measures, including radio and TV announcements, loudhailers in vehicles, doorknocks, telephones. Particular attention was paid to older persons.

Community members and the agencies responsible for emergency management exchanged information and opinions, and agreed to get together again in 6 months time to assess what progress has been made on the issues raised.

On the recommendation of the Coode Island Task Force, the former Government decided that MacKenzie Road would become the boundary between P&O Ports Container Terminal to the east, and Terminals bulk liquid chemical storage to the west. Terminals would be required to move their existing oxide tanks to the old BP site, north of the existing Terminals operation. Mr Peter Reddie, Terminals General Manager, described the tanks, which have been built and maintained to a high standard, as “the epicentre of the potential risk”. The Committee is concerned about moving these tanks closer to the residential areas of Footscray, and is seeking further information from the Task Force and the Victorian WorkCover Authority (which was represented on the Task Force) about the reasons and safety of the move.

Community representative Ian Thomas provided the Committee with a copy of “The Manchester Agreement”—a legal agreement between a UK company and its local community which guarantees to provide a safe and healthy environment. The Committee will consider the application of this innovative model for any future development at Coode Island.

Faye Simpson made a most interesting presentation to the Committee on her research into the links between low grade,, chronic exposure to chemicals (typically suffered by workers using chemicals on a long term basis) and human health. Early symptoms include mood swings, slowing of reaction times, increasing fatigue and memory problems. She said workers could guard against these problems by wearing protective clothing and observing safety regulations.

The Committee welcomed a new community representative, Deborah Macfarlane. Deborah lives in Kensington and may be contacted on 9376 4343. The next committee meeting will be held on Thursday 25 November 1999 at the Maribyrnong Town Hall , corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray starting at 6.30pm. The meeting will focus on the work of the Health, Safety and Environment Sub-Committee, and members of the community are welcome to attend.