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Initiating Report and Objectives based on a report prepared by Jane Fuller of Luminico Pty Ltd

Proposal to establish a Community Consultative Committee for the Terminals Pty Ltd facility at Coode Island

introduction

This paper outlines a proposal for the creation of a Community Consultative Committee for the Terminals Pty Ltd bulk liquid hazardous chemicals transfer and storage facility at Coode Island.

At a public meeting organised by the Maribyrnong and Port Phillip City Councils in August 1997 there was a resolution to "begin a monitoring process to ensure improved operational performance of the existing facility" at Coode Island. This proposal has been developed to implement that resolution.

The proposal has been prepared following informal preliminary discussions with some key stakeholders about the most effective form a community consultative committee could take.

purpose of the Committee

The purpose of the community consultative committee is to create a framework within which the community can monitor the facility and raise and address health, safety and environmental issues relating to it with terminals Pty Ltd and the relevant regulators (such as the EPA and the Victorian WorkCover authority).

This proposal has been designed to promote this purpose. It has, for example, been designed to allow all members of the community an avenue through which they can have a say about what concerns them, as well as to provide for the representation of groups with an active interest in the operations and activities at the terminals facility. It has also been designed to promote issue resolution through consultation and facilitation.

Some issues which have already been raised by members of the community as matters of concern are:

  • that there is not enough information about what happens at the facility;. that the facility is dangerous and should be relocated;
  • that there should be community monitoring of the health, safety and environmental aspects of the facility, such as the use of emission detection systems and air monitoring stations;
  • that there are dangers associated with the transport of hazardous chemicals from the facility through the community, which should be addressed;
  • that there should be independent environmental auditing of the facility;
  • that there should be community awareness of and input into the State Government's Coode Island Taskforce recommendations on Coode Island, expected to be considered by the Government in early 1998;
  • that the community should be involved in emergency management and planning;
  • that the community should be involved in the instigation of environment improvement plans for the facility under the environmental protection legislation;
  • that the community should have a say in proposals for plant upgrades, expansions and other modifications of the facility;
  • that the community should have a say in information packages released to the community about the facility and its operations; and
  • that there should be environmental reporting by Terminals Pty Ltd.

These issues could be appropriately addressed in a community consultative committee.

scope of the committee

The Community Consultative Committee should cover the operations of the Terminals Pty Ltd facility at Coode Island.It has been suggested that the Committee could cover the other Coode Island operators which handle substances such as tallows and vegetable oils. This suggestion has not been taken up in this proposal as the community's interest appears to lie primarily in the handling of toxic and hazardous chemicals at the Terminals Pty Ltd facility. This would not, however, prevent the consultative Committee from extending its scope to cover other Coode Island operators if this were decided at a later date.

objectives

The following are the proposed objectives of the Committee:

  • to establish effective communication links between the company, the community and Government regulators relating to health, safety and environmental issues of concern arising from the operation of the facility;
  • to provide a mechanism for the dissemination of information to the community about Coode Island, its operations, the hazards and risks it poses and any changes proposed to the facility;
  • to enable the community to monitor the health, safety and environmental impacts of the facility;
  • to create a forum within which Terminals Pty Ltd and the relevant regulators are accountable to the community regarding the health, safety and environmental impacts of the facility; and
  • to plan and disseminate information to the community for emergency management.

auspice

It is proposed that the Committee should be auspiced jointly by the Maribyrnong City Council and the Melbourne City Council.

Many members of the community have expressed a preference to include the Melbourne City Council as a joint auspicing body. This is especially since Coode Island is located within the Melbourne City Council's jurisdiction. Consequently the Maribyrnong City Council has recently invited the Melbourne City Council to become involved in the Committee.

Terminals Pty Ltd has fully endorsed the formation of the Committee and has indicated its willingness to participate and contribute to it.

term

It is proposed that the Committee should operate for a term of 12 months.

This is a relatively unusual approach for consultative committees, which are either expected to operate indefinitely or their term is not contemplated at all. The rationale behind the finite term 12 months is that this is likely to create a stronger incentive within the Committee to achieve some solid outcomes early.

After 12 month's operation, the Committee's effectiveness should be reviewed by a person decided by the Committee to determine whether it should proceed and in what form. The review should be made against the performance criteria determined by the Committee.

membership and appointment

There should be up to 16 people on the Committee. The proposed membership structure of the Committee does not contemplate formal voting and its numbers therefore do not take account of potential voting blocs etc.

The proposed membership is as follows:

  • the Chairperson (see below);
  • up to 5 members drawn from the general community and neighbours of Terminals Pty Ltd, nominated to the Maribyrnong City Council and, if more than 5 people are nominated, the members should be selected by drawing lots in an open and transparent process;
  • 2 representatives of HAZMAG;
  • 1 representative of the Combined Environment Groups (ACF, Environment Victoria and Friends of the Earth);
  • 2 representatives of Terminals drawn from its senior management;
  • the Health Officer of the Maribyrnong City Council;
  • 1 trade union representative appointed by the ACTU;
  • 2 local government Councillors, one each from the Maribyrnong and Melbourne City Councils; and
  • 1 representative of the chemicals industry who can speak on behalf of the users of the facility.

The term of appointment for each member should be the duration of the Committee (12 months). A member should be able to resign, or be removed from the Committee at the Chairperson's discretion if he or she is absent from the Committee meetings for more than 2 meetings. If this occurs, the member should be replaced by a person from a similar background in order to maintain the composition of the Committee.

role of the regulators

The Committee should have the support and advice of the following relevant authorities -

  • Metropolitan Fire Authority
  • EPA
  • Local Government - Municipal Emergency Planners
  • Melbourne Ports Corporation; and
  • Victorian WorkCover Authority (Dangerous Goods).

These authorities should be encouraged to send their representatives to Committee meetings. If it is not possible or appropriate for them to attend every meeting, the Chairperson should invite the representatives to specific Committee meetings when it is dealing with matters relevant to their Authorities.

leadership

The leadership of the Committee is considered to be vital to its credibility and success.

The Chairperson should be a facilitator. The objectives of the Committee, as proposed, strongly suggest the need for facilitation and dialogue at its meetings rather than for formal voting structures such as absentee and a Chairperson's casting vote etc.

The Chairperson should be appointed by the Maribyrnong and Melbourne City Councils. The criteria for the selection of the Chairperson should include the following characteristics-

  • is neutral and independent;
  • has the endorsement of all of the Committee members;
  • is capable of managing conflict;
  • is capable of facilitating meetings; and
  • is capable of gaining maximum co-operation from the members of the Committee.

Some people have already been suggested as potential Chairpersons. It is proposed that the selection of the Chair will be based on the above criteria and the availability of the person to do the job. Council would be interested in developing this list of potential Chairpersons and welcomes suggestions for the Chairperson.

The term of appointment for the Chairperson should be the duration of the Committee (12 months).

meetings

The way the meetings are conducted should be a matter determined by the Committee once it has been established. The following are suggestions for the operation of the first few meetings and are based on the objective of enabling the community to raise and address health, safety and environmental issues with Terminals Pty Ltd and the relevant regulators in a consultative manner.

  • co-ordination and secretarial function: performed by the Maribyrnong City Council;
  • location: Maribyrnong Town Hall;
  • frequency of meetings: monthly;
  • open meetings: attendance by the general public should be invited and encouraged;
  • advertisement of meetings: meetings should be advertised at least one week before the meeting, inviting public attendance;
  • setting the agenda: the agenda should be set at the previous meeting. Issues arising between meetings which members want to raise at the following meeting should, where possible, be notified through the secretary (Maribyrnong City Council).
  • speaking rights: anyone should have the right to speak and ask questions, including observers. This should be reflected in the Agenda and managed by the Chairperson.
  • minutes: the minutes of the meeting should be distributed to the members as soon as possible after the meetings and made publicly available;
  • voting; no formal voting should be conducted on the issues, the meeting should be facilitated and allow all members to participate.

the first meetings

At its first meeting, the Committee members should be encouraged to discuss their expectations of if.

Within the first few meetings the Committee should also agree on-

  • its objectives;
  • the principles for its operation (for example, that the meetings are open to the public, anyone can speak at the meetings, the information presented at the meeting is not confidential, that all relevant information should be presented to the Committee at its earliest possible stage, that the deliberations of the Committee should be as public as possible etc);
  • a work plan for the Committee;
  • performance criteria for the measurement of the effectiveness of the Committee; and
  • the process for review of the effectiveness of the Committee at the end of the 12-month period.

information provided to the Committee

The way information is produced to and used by the Committee should be agreed by the Committee.

The information which the Committee is likely to request will most likely be sourced from Terminals Pty Ltd, the Melbourne Ports Corporation and the State Government regulators such as-

  • product and quantity data - now and planned;
  • licences and approvals;
  • emissions data;
  • community complaints;
  • environmental audits;
  • planning information;
  • ship-to-shore transfers;
  • emergency management;
  • accidents and incidents; and
  • transport information.

The following are proposed principles relating to information which the Committee could consider for adoption -

  • the concept and principles of community right to know;
  • information should be presented to the Committee at the earliest possible stage. For examples, if there is a proposal to expand the facility, the Committee should be advised of the proposal, enabling it to be consulted early in the decision-making process.
  • all information, with the exception of personal and commercially confidential information should be made available to the Committee;
  • information should be provided to the Committee promptly on request;
  • the information should be presented in a form which the community can understand, however original documents rather than selective summaries of the documents should be provided; and
  • information before the Committee should not be treated as confidential.

The Committee will be encouraged by the Maribyrnong City Council to negotiate a protocol on information, embodying the principles proposed above.

Independent technical advice and information should also be made available to the community members (such as peer reviews of technical documents) as needed.

information released by the Committee

The Committee is also likely to release information. The following are proposals for how it may manage the dissemination of information -

  • the Committee should recognise the information needs of people of non-English speaking backgrounds and provide information in the appropriate press and languages;
  • no information should be released under the name of the Committee unless it is endorsed by its members;
  • the Committee's resolutions and activities should be communicated to the community through publication of notices in the local paper;
  • its minutes should be publicly available to the community from the Maribyrnong and Melbourne City Councils' offices;
  • general information and the activities of the Committee should be released in regular newsletter.

resourcing the Committee

The Committee should be adequately resourced to achieve its objectives. It is proposed that this involves-

  • secretarial support to the Committee - should be provided by the Maribyrnong City Council;
  • child care during Committee meetings - should be made available, if requested, during Committee meetings;
  • sitting fees for community and green representatives should be provided, based on the typical sitting fee rate for environmental effects statement community consultative committees; and

funding for independent technical advice and information for the community members should be made available when needed, such as for the cost of peer reviews of technical documents.

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