Esso/Longford Oil & Gas Plant incidents
- 1998 Esso/Longford disaster
The photos shown do not represent normal flaring and smoke drift is not
to proceed over boundary fence.
Notice the dates on these photos.
- On the 30th Jan 2013, the billowing smoke was a result of a gas sensor failure which allowed full gas to escape into the flaring that was supposed to be finished by 25th Jan.
- So what happened on the 4th Feb. That was the second gas escape incident in 5 days.
- Photos dated 5/2/13 show the smoke going outside the plants boundaries. This time a turbine failed and caused a grass fire. This was a supposed 'low level flare' that exploded.
- Another incident on 8/2/13 described by neighbour as Esso having another fart!
Again, it was described as a low level flare of hydrocarbons. Also, check the drift over towards the township.
- 5/4/13 - Major Glycol spill into the unlined north pond (reported to be approximately 1million litres) resulting in rancid odour, nausea, throat irritation and burning eyes being reported to EPA by neighbours. Oily sulphur odour noticed 2 days previous. A major vegetable farm is less than 2kms from this gas plant which is of major concern regarding the potential for chemical residue to contaminate leafy vegetables.
This incident has been the most reactive for Esso and EPA - ABC radio link story
Now we wait for the outcome and surprise, surprise there has been no outcome.
Still unfinished business. Do not assume this will go away.
- no mention of it in EPA's 2013 annual report on industry incidents and compliance so does that mean no investigation took place even though regional EPA officer stated their would be.
- does this mean Esso did not receive a pollution abatement notice yet neighbours were again impacted by toxic air contaminates. See Esso's material safety data on glycol here
- can't find any mention of it in WorkSafe Victoria annual report either.
The question is 'are Esso, WorkSafe Victoria and EPA negligent in their duty of care to ensure medical attention was provided to the neighbours and other affected person by the impacts of this unplanned incident.
To EPA, how could all these incidents be within their licence conditions. What is of particular concern, is whether Esso contact EPA within the required time frame whenever there has been an 'incident'.
Often, it was the public or media that informed EPA first but by the time they would investigate 'if they deemed it necessary' the significance or severity and evidence of the event had reduced.
The Esso Longford Gas Plant is a Major Hazards Facilitiy (MHF) and, as such, has its own dedicated unit to set licence conditions appropriate to its operational use and storage of dangerous material. Compliance, enforcement and the like fall under th Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
To WorkSafe Victoria, under Work Health and Safety Act 2011 'other persons' can be a neighbour. So, did you attend this incident? Were you aware that neighbours were impacted? What should you have done to protect the neighbours under your act?
(1) The main object of this Act is to provide for a balanced and nationally consistent framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces by:
(a)protecting workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare through the elimination or minimisation of risks arising from work; and
(2) In furthering subsection (1)(a), regard must be had to the principle that workers and other persons should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work as is reasonably practicable.
Part 3—Incident notification
35 In this Act, notifiable incident means:
(a) the death of a person; or
(b) a serious injury or illness of a person; or
(c) a dangerous incident.
38 Duty to notify of notifiable incidents
Community over mining angry email letter to govt, EPA and WorkSafe dated 11/2/13 and 5/4/13
Esso has had its second sensor failure 2 1/2 months after a 2 million litre crude oil spill occurred when a sensor failed in the retention tanks on 18th November, 2012 releasing toxic benzene fumes to workers and neighbouring properties.
This time the sensor failed in a gas line releasing gas into the the atmosphere connecting with their maintenance program of increased flaring. Surprise, surprise with it resulting in a small grass fire.
Smoke had already been billowing for the previous week with there being a lot more than neighbours expected with the flaring.
But on Thursday 31/1/13, the sirens sounded and the smoke billowed.
Local CFA had to attend to put out the fire but according to ESSO spokesperson - it was just normal process.
A failed sensor in your gas pipe is not normal process and causing a grass fire is not
The concern for Esso, their partners Exxon/Mobil, neighbours and the enviroment is the aging and ongoing lack of plant infrastructure maintenance particularly considering Esso have a current works approval application in place to tack a new facility on to an old aging facility.
Why should we be worried-
- the regulatory guidelines and frameworks do not work
- the regulators and monitoring systems do not work
- the integrity and effectiveness of EPA and WorkSafe Victoria is questionable, and;
- the failure to acknowledge gaps in the system WILL impact our communities
Should there be a major investigation into the management and maintenance of this gas plant given it is a MAJOR HAZARDS FACILITY? Yes, there should have been but wasn't.
Esso/Exxon's planned gas conditioning plant expansion went ahead with EPA placing themselves as the per-eminent authority on pollution and protection of the environment while the community and workers themselves know otherwise.
Give yourselves a voice with EPA and don't let them get away with being lazy or inept.
REMEMBER THAT IT IS YOUR VOICE AND YOUR VOTE THAT DETERMINES