Coode Island Committee Update

At its meeting on 25 November 1999, the Coode Island Community Consultative Committee adopted a significant report of achievement from their Health, Safety and Environment Sub-Committee, which provided a review of the work of the Sub-Committee from August 1998 up to November 1999. The Sub-Committee was set-up to critically review the safety, health and environmental control measures of the Terminals Pty Ltd facilities at Coode Island. It reported on the openness of the Company in providing information; its readiness in making its site available for inspection; control measures it has introduced to prevent further fires such as those in 1991; on the thoroughness with which the Company investigates even the smallest accident at its site; and on the level of compliance with the Coode Island Review Panel recommendations. In thanking the Sub-Committee for its considerable efforts, some members of the CICCC wish to make clear that they do not support the retention of bulk hazardous chemical storage on Coode Island in any form.

 

The full text of the adopted report can be obtained from the Chair, Robin Saunders (phone 0853 7510, email robsaund@ozemail.com.au) and will be posted on the CICCC web page which may be found at www.ciccc.org

 

The Committee considered the new Major Hazard Facilities Regulations recently released for public comment by the Victorian WorkCover Authority. These regulations will significantly reduce the likelihood of another event like the Longford Gas Plant accident, and, if administered by a separate authority such as the former Occupational Health and Safety Authority, will implement one of the principal recommendations of the Longford Royal Commission report. The requirement for major hazard facilities to present a ‘safety case’ will require high quality management of the 45 mooted sites in Victoria.

 

The “safety case” requires operators to identify all major incidents that could occur at their facility, and hazards that may lead to a major incident. They must detail the control measures they have implemented, and demonstrate that a safety management system is in place to ensure the effectiveness of the control measures.

 

While the CICCC believes the new regulations will enhance the safety of major hazard facilities, it is concerned that the regulations do not require more open consultation with the community, and provide fuller information to them. In particular, it is concerned that the ‘safety cases’ are not proposed to be available to affected communities. CICCC will make a submission on these issues before the closing date for submission, 15 December 1999.

 

Kevin Shea, the Independent Chairman of the Coode Island User Group, made a brief presentation at the meeting. The User Group comprises all the companies that have facilities at Coode Island, and the establishment of the group fulfils one recommendation of the Coode Island Task Force, which reported to Government last year. “I have been most interested to attend a meeting of the CICCC,” Kevin said, “and I will take a strong message back to the User Group that they need to focus on open communication with the surrounding community.”

Ian Gibson of Maribyrnong City Council provided advice to the Committee on residential and other land uses within the one kilometre EPA buffer distance around Coode Island "Maribyrnong City Council has opposed attempts to introduce significant residential development near Coode Island", Ian said. A number of chemical sites have closed in the area, and the CICCC is concerned to see planning controls in place which will prevent new hazardous facilities being built on existing sites, so close to housing.

 

The Committee welcomed Cathy Aktypis, a member of the Kensington Association, who will take over from Robert Glavich as a community representative on the Committee. Robert has made a significant contribution to the Committee, and has helped to ensure that the Committee remains focussed on the needs and concerns of local residents. Cathy may be contacted on 9376 2145. The next committee meeting will be held on Thursday 20 January 2000 at the Maribyrnong Town Hall , corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray starting at 6.30pm. Members of the community are welcome to attend.