Fluoride Action Network

Refinery talks on safety issues

Source: The Daily Telegraph | April 13th, 2005
Location: Australia
Industry type: Oil Refineries

AN industrial relations commissioner has been called in to try to resolve a safety dispute at a Brisbane refinery following a chemical spill that put workers in hospital.

More than 40 people were affected and 24 taken to hospital after hydrogen fluoride gas was released by a pipe rupture at the Caltex refinery in suburban Lytton last week.

The gas can cause painful skin burns and breathing problems, and becomes hydrofluoric acid when mixed with water.

Workers employed by Transfield Services, which provides maintenance services under contract to Caltex, said today they had a long list of safety concerns about the refinery.

Union spokesman Alan Hicks said workers were refusing to enter areas they considered dangerous and talks between unions and management had now stalled over provision of an evacuation alarm on a walkway.

“Guys working in that area can’t hear the evacuation siren,” Mr Hicks said.

He said Caltex and Transfield had refused to install an alarm in the area.

“We have reached an impasse and we are now waiting for the arrival of an industrial relations commissioner to intervene,” Mr Hicks said.

Refinery manager Andrew Brewer said Caltex was still investigating the leak and ways to prevent a recurrence, but the issues raised by the contract workers had to be sorted out with Transfield.

He said refinery production had not been affected.

A spokeswoman for Transfield said the company did not want to comment at this stage.