Esso/Exxon Longford Oil & Gas Plant
Background story to the first incident noted on the 17/12/2012
- Interaction and more news stories on EPA page
The Esso Longford Gas Plant in Gippsland Victoria had a significant crude oil leak resulting in high levels of volatile organic compounds, including Benzene, being released.
It was because of a catastrophic failure in the retention tanks with sensors allowing all crude oil through to settling ponds stated by site workers on the day. The result caused significant health concerns for the most immediate neighbours and this is currently ongoing.
As a result, there has been many stories in the local news, both newspaper and radio about:
- the strong petro chemical smell and 2 million litre crude oil spill
- EPA’s role or lack of in the follow-up and then the worst of all
- THE COVER-UP by spokesperson for Exxon/Mobile (parent company of Esso) admitting benzene was released and then all of a sudden the circumstances changed.
- Win television ran story on Thursday's evening show (20th Dec) with local neighbour.
- Whilst film crew where there, the offensive smell wafted over and was clearly noted by crew as distressing and not wanting to breathe in the fumes.
- Story is picked up by numerous reporters all working to right the wrong that is occurring where it appears. Read ABC link story here 21/12/12
- Read Esso's past history and cover-up strategy from 1999:
Longford disaster allegations. Transcript 3/05/99 'It has also been alleged that Esso and its parent company the giant Exxon corporation, have a history of concealing potentially damaging information when called to account for their role in accidents.'
Our concern was that the immediate neighbours and community were going to see the same type of cover-up from Esso/Exxon as occurred in '98 over this new incident and it has happened.
But what is so wrong about the whole sorry saga EPA, as the prime regulator, has failed the community in its obligation to protect public health and the environment because EPA were already denying there was a benzene spill as late as 21/12/12.
Even on the 7/1/13, EPA was still asking neighbour, "how do you know benzene was released?"
How can EPA still ask these questions when Esso have already admitted the benzene leaks as well as Esso Doctor stating neighbour has a low risk of developing leukaemia as a result.
The spill (Esso have admitted to just 2 millions litres) was dangerous enough that Esso workers were removed from the area and clean-up workers needed to wear protective clothing and breathing apparatus as noted in news article above, 'Something smells at gas plant' and response for Esso then denied that happened and went into major damage
Yet, Esso admitted to EPA that they were not aware that there had been a spill for 3-4 days.
How can you not know that 2 million litres of crude has overflowed your retention pond!!!
The major concern is that they never planned on informing the public? Never, it appears.
Only on complaint to the plant about burning eyes, sore throats and toxic smell was one the most immediate neighbours eventually informed of the dangerous increase in benzene levels from operation site managers who continued to inform this neighbour over the couple of weeks whenever the benzene levels spiked.
However, Esso/Exxon company spokespersons suggested that this was not a reportable incident for the regulator.
This begs the question;
- what constitutes a reportable incident when carcinogenic chemicals are allowed to disperse into the surrounding environment? This issue has never been able to be resolved by EPA because they did not investigate the incident until 4 weeks after the event.
EPA comment: ‘Regarding the incident in November 2012 that resulted in a discharge of crude oil to Esso Longford's north pond, independent monitoring of the benzene emissions from that incident showed that levels were very low at the worksite (50 times below exposure limits) and would have been extremely low at the nearest house. Subsequent volatile organic compound (VOC) monitoring at the boundary of the site has shown non-detectable levels of VOCs. While we were unable to verify offsite odour impacts to a level that would allow penalties to apply, on the basis that the incident would likely have caused such an impact we have issued a notice for the company to undertake remedial actions to reduce the risk of reoccurrence and abate odour from the north pond.’
So, why are incidents and odours still occurring at the north pond.
Because of EPA’s ‘poor management’ of this incident there could be nothing proved other than Esso admitting Benzene leak and the dubious ‘re-correction’ by Esso and EPA subsequently changing the date that the incident was first reported by Esso to EPA.
So, does the information remain on the hard drive or have the big boys removed it?
What this total shambles showed in the management of a Major Hazards Facility is why this website and our community campaign for mining reform is justified.
Compliance, monitoring and enforcement by industry and their regulators is either non-existent or severely lacking in integrity consequently endangering the public and impacting on the environment.