AUSTRALIA - - Stopwork Over Refinery Leak, More Than 200 Protest Safety Conditions From Petrol Spill on Monday : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Title: Stopwork Over Refinery Leak


Wednesday 12 April 2000

More than 200 Shell staff stopped work in protest at safety conditions at the Geelong refinery yesterday, claiming the company failed to warn them of a serious petrol spill.

About 26,000 litres of petrol spilled from a pipeline at the base of a storage tank about 2pm on Monday.

No workers were evacuated and no one was injured.

Country Fire Authority firefighters were called to contain the area, but as the liquid was pumped out of the damaged pipe, a second leak occurred.

The Victorian WorkCover Authority and the Environment Protection Authority were also called to investigate.

The Australian Workers Union's Geelong branch organiser Robert Nichols criticised Shell for not warning workers of the hazard. He said an alarm should have gone off and the plant should have been evacuated when the leak began.

The leak was not far from where workers were welding, Mr Nichols said. "It only takes one spark and the whole place could have gone up. It was not good enough that an alarm was not sounded."

He said 26,000 litres was "a huge amount" and the petrol leak was the second this year. In February, about 40,000 litres of fuel leaked from a faulty pipe.

The spill comes after the company was hit with a record $225,000 fine in February after it pleaded guilty to breaching occupational health and safety laws at its Geelong refinery.

Shell pleaded guilty to six offences including breaching safety laws in relation to the maintenance of firefighting and safety equipment and failing to maintain a safe workplace.

Shell spokesman Rob Hart said the company and union met last night and had agreed that in future the company would use a refinery-wide alarm to notify workers of hazards.

"A new process and method of communication has been applied and that will be enacted from today," Mr Hart said.

He said a maintenance review was continuing and the exact cause of the leak was not yet known. "We have thousands of kilometres of pipeline and you will get small leaks that occur ... but our engineers are looking at that now," he said.

He said workers returned to work after the meeting about 4pm.

Mr Hart said the spill was of low risk and there were no sources of ignition near the leak.

"We deemed that the risk was low and therefore the alarm was not sounded," he said.

A WorkCover spokesman said the authority was treating the spill as very serious and an investigation was under way.

He said petroleum was a dangerous and volatile chemical and maintenance at the refinery would be examined.


-- (, April 11, 2000


While the leak was being repaired a second leak occurred? Hard to believe.

Shell, Australia, has certainly been having a lot of serious problems. Weren't they the ones who put out the contaminated aviation fuel early in the year?

-- LillyLP (, April 11, 2000.

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