CICCC Update—9 August 2001 Meeting

Development hiatus

At its meeting on 9 August 2001, the CICCC heard from Terminals that their redevelopment plans were on hold due to confusion about government requirements. They are required under the terms of their lease to quit the eastern side of Mackenzie Road by January 2004. Allowing at least 15 months time for demolition and soil remediation on the site, they would need to commence demolition in the third quarter of 2002 or earlier.

Under Victorian WorkCover legislation, Terminals are also required to prepare their safety case for propylene oxide and benzene by 30 June 2002. This is only three months before they must demolish the tanks. It might make sense, from Terminals’ perspective, to simply demolish the tanks earlier.

This was the target date for commissioning of Terminals’ new tanks for propylene oxide and benzene on the BP site. However the Government has announced that Marstel is to be the developer of the BP site. Terminals advised the CICCC that they simply do not have room on the B-West and C-West sites to store either of these chemicals in the future.

Marstel is developing a proposal to supply propylene oxide and benzene (and other chemicals) to the Victorian chemical industry. The CICCC is aware that the process of obtaining a works approval for a new plant (allowing for consultation and the likelihood of appeals) will take at least 9 months. Detailed design, the preparation of the Safety Case, and construction and commissioning will take at least a further 18 months. So for at least 15 months, Coode Island will not be able to supply either propylene oxide or benzene.

Mobil petrol spill

Maribyrnong City Council provided the CICCC with a report that they had sought on the petrol spill of 5th July. The report detailed how Maribyrnong City Council were not notified about the incident until 11:00 am on the morning of the spill, seven hours after it happened.

The example highlighted the communication problems still being experienced between the Government Agencies responsible for emergency management.

The CICCC discussed the outcomes of the emergency exercise (Operation Overflow) held on 18 October 2000. While the exercise was valuable, the role of the Maribyrnong City Council was exemplary, and the verbal debriefing of all parties after the exercise was excellent, the final report completely failed to capture important lessons of the exercise. In particular, some six different agency communication problems were highlighted verbally at the debriefing that was attended by community members of the CICCC.

The Mobil petrol spill has reinforced the need for proper documentation of the lessons learned from Operation Overflow, and follow-up to ensure systems are improved. The CICCC will write to the Victorian Channels Authority on this matter.

Emergency communication pilot study

Maribyrnong City Council has appointed Cr Bill Horrocks as chair of the steering group which will mange a new initiative on emergency communications. The Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner will provide resources to undertake a pilot study involving Coode Island.

The CICCC is delighted that this critical issue is at last attracting the interest and support of the key institutional stakeholders that has been lacking for so long. The Committee will continue to actively highlight deficiencies in emergency management, and will participate in and monitor the development of the pilot study.

10th Anniversary of the Coode Island explosion and fires

A BBQ and world premiere theatre performance to mark the 10th anniversary of the Coode Island explosion and fires will be held on Tuesday 21 August at 11:00 am. The venue is on the Maribyrnong river bank opposite Coode Island, at the end of Somerville Road. Invitations are being extended to all interested parties.

Next meeting of the CICCC

Members of the public are welcome to attend the next meeting of the CICCC on Thursday 13th September 2001 at the Maribyrnong Town Hall on the corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray at 6.30 pm. Items on the agenda include reports from Terminals on a Groundwater and Soils survey at Coode Island and their program of Certificate training to enhance the skill levels of operators.

Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 16 August 2001