Petrol spill at Holden Dock
On the morning of Thursday 5th July, 4000 litres of petrol was spilt at Holden Dock while loading a tanker from the Mobil facility. The primary risk from the spill was the threat of a fire and explosion. Community member Faye Simpson described the incident as “close to a worst case scenario”. EPA told the Committee that there was potential for environmental damage resulting from the spill. EPA is undertaking an in-depth investigation with a view to initiating enforcement action.
There was no community alarm sounded during the incident. Maribyrnong City Council told the Committee that they were not advised about the seriousness of the situation, and they did not activate their emergency management procedures. Maribyrnong City Council has called for a full report from Mobil.
This is yet another example of a breakdown in communications in an emergency situation that left local residents in the dark as to what was happening. The efforts of Terminals Pty Ltd and radio 3WRB to encourage other companies and the regulatory authorities to improve communications with the community in real or possible emergency situations is acknowledged. CICCC is, however, frustrated by the lack of evidence of any improvement in emergency communication.
Leo Van Der Toorren, Manager Coordination and Planning, Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner, has followed up his presentation to the April meeting of the CICCC. He indicated that his office is drawing up a draft plan of action for Emergency communication in the Coode Island area, and will be looking for a full partnership with the CICCC, the local community, industry, Councils and other relevant Government Departments in developing and implementing the action plan. This is particularly welcomed in the light of the Mobil petrol spill experience.
EPA advises about fines and monitoring
EPA will consult with nominated community members of the CICCC in preparing a draft of the $30,000 air quality monitoring program to be funded by Terminals. The draft will be subject to wide community consultation before it is finalised and implemented.
Committee hears from VCMBSG
Representatives of the Victorian Chemical Manufacturers Bulk Storage Group (VCMBSG) presented a review of their involvement in encouraging Marstel to develop a proposal for the BP site. The representatives told the Committee of the stalled negotiations last year, and of their repeated letters to the Victorian Government in the latter part of 2000, and an approach to Government in March 2001.
Committee members were advised that even if Marstel was successful in getting government approval to develop the BP site, 2 or 3 of the 5 companies making up the VCMBSG would store acrylates on the Terminals site.
Community member Ian Thomas advised the Committee that Marstel had stated that it intended to undertake a consultative process with the community without delay, in advance of any Government decision on the matter.
Colleen Hartland of HazMAG, who attended the VCMBSG presentation, stated that she had no confidence in the EPA Works Approval process, and would be calling for an Environment Effects Statement on the Marstel proposal.
WorkCover conducted an exhaustive three-day audit of Terminals’ facility at Coode Island on 4th, 5th and 6th June 2001. Ted Towson, a community member on the CICCC, attended the audit, and told the meeting that he was very impressed with its thoroughness. The WorkCover report of the audit was discussed at the CICCC meeting, and WorkCover stated that the audit did not identify any substantive non-compliance issues at Terminals.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the next meeting of the CICCC on 9th August 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 EPA and Maribyrnong City Council on the Mobil petrol spill, and the Melbourne Ports Corporation Environment Improvement Plan.
Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 23 July 2001