Emergency Planning in the Port Botany Precinct

 – (comparable complex of hazardous industry in Melbourne)

30 March 2015 DPC flick offUPDATE: 30 March 2015: Liberals won a ‘mandate’ on 28th March but Mandarins as always in control. This unhelpful response from senior bureaucrat –Sonja_Stewart Sonja Stewart (pictured left) –  who has been in ‘service’ since 2002 – seen off Carr, Iemma, Rees, Keneally, O’Farrell.  Stewart writes – “Given that the Department of Premier and Cabinet can be of no further assistance to you I wish to advise that the Department will not respond to any future correspondence on this matter.”  What assistance?   None has been provided by these  ‘public servants’.  Had they been genuinely interested in assisting they would have referred to the  Community Resilience Innovation Program

WEB Emergencies 9 February 2015

Previous Post on Emergency Preparedness Read the transcript for the afternoon session, 21/11/2011, of the Orica Kooragang Inquiry, and you get some idea of  the inadequacy of communication between responsible government agencies and the  public during and subsequent to the event  It was evident from public forums that residents were also ill-prepared for any event. The response received from Vicki D’Adam (CEO of the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services) today does not address the issues previously raised.   She states that “a central principle of emergency management planning in NSW is that it will be managed by the lowest level of government” and then goes on to say that ‘a local council representative chairs the local emergency management committee’. Is Ms D’Adam aware that the Port Botany Precinct comes under the jurisdiction of 2 Councils – Randwick and Botany Bay – and that a SEPP covers a major part of the area.  Was she also aware that the risk assessment that should have been conducted as part of an EIS under 2005 Conditions of Consent  A1.4   when the 3.2 million TEU cap was removed  was not and will not because the State Government brought in legislation see Section 32   to void those conditions.  Does she understand the implications of this.  How can either local Council ‘plan and prepare’ when the State Government doesn’t ‘stick to the rules’. Lessons provided by the Kooragang event in August 2011 have not been heeded.  It was easy in 2011, only a few months after election for the Government to allocate responsibility elsewhere.  But the same does not apply now. Barry O’Farrell, former premier in a statement to  the Upper House Inquiry 21 November 2011 appeared to understand the concerns of residents in high risk areas:  I have door knocked streets across Stockton opposite the Kooragang Island plant and I can assure you that the people there are not interested in inquiries or in the blame game. They simply want a safe environment for their family; perfectly responsible and understandable. and later when responding to a question:  Ultimately, we in Government are in pursuit of public need. Ultimately, it is about public interests, including public interest was failed here. But who does now? “Representing the interests of the community” as Ms D’Adam writes, is not the same as engaging with community and building resilience through a whole of government approach.  She also refers  to the Botany Bay DISPLAN but this plan is devoid of references to building community resilience.  The one occurrence of the word ‘community’ is in the ‘Definition’.   Compare this with the Sydney CBD Plan  and the website   as well as the Lucas Heights Plan 

The bureaucrats have a history of not addressing and communicating the extent of cumulative risk on North Botany Bay.  The first assessment of the risk undertaken 1980-83 was not made public until Steve Skinner’s ABC Background Briefing “Chlorine Capers”, 16th June 2002.  This forced the then Planning Minister, Andrew Refshauge, to table the report in Parliament on 18th June.  Earlier reference had been made to the secret document by Democrat MLC, Richard Jones, on 21st September 1989  when the Legislative Council were debating the Environmental Offences and Penalties Bill.  (Below pages from the 1983 Report – note the cost of buying out residents but also the recommendation for a buffer zone).

1983 Risk Report pages 83-84

After the Meadow Way fire in June 2013 residents requested a special meeting of the Orica committee concerned with the HCB stockpile.  Concerns were raised about the proximity to the BIP and education of the community about risk and emergency response. Questions were taken on notice from Fire and Rescue and responses provided.     While Fire and Rescue personnel are expected to put their lives on the line when responding to emergency events – as they did at the subsequent Caltex spill in July 2013 –  they have no official part in land use planning.  They may consider a buffer zone around major industry, like the BIP (Botany Industrial Park) is commonsense but their opinion is not sought.

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2 Responses to Emergency Planning in the Port Botany Precinct

  1. Carlos says:

    Its frightening, what would we do if something extreem happend.

    When the fuel leak happened back in July 2013 I heard the Alarm at around 1.20am did not know what it was. It was very loud, unusual, usually its the beeps clunks around the ports, container yards or inccidents at Orica and durounds. I went to have a look as I was concerned at 1.30 am, myself and my neighbours heard the siron the loud noise of the siron could be heard all around Matraville, Chifeley, La perouse but we had no idea what was going on or what to do. I followed the sound of the noise with my car and once at abotany Road I saw the many many emergency services dealing with the incident from Botany Road, I was there for about half an hour to 45 minutes, there was also a tow truck and driver and also a camera man and another person, we were looking at the emergency services in action pointing the hoses toward a large refinery cylinder, we did mot know what was going on at the time and were there for a while, it seemed that all was under control by the emergency services fire, ambulance, police and more. It was like an action movie, for a moment did not seem real, we didnt really know what was going on at the time, no one came to move us on, I after around 45 minutes I then left. Later I heard on radio it was a fuel leak with fire, I took pictures with my phone but did not turn out very well.The point is that the area should have been shut down as soon as the incident was detected, I thought something went wrong with the ports but it was the fuel refinery, it would be great for Randwick , Botany Councils, EPA to send out to the local residents within a few Kilometres of the Orica, All Port Botany plants fuel and other a pamphlet regarding emergency evacuations process. Also ongoing information in the local papers and mail drops, even a fridge magnet with relevent information in plain english. Not many people know what to do if a serious inccident that can seriously effect our safety and health occures. How will we be notified, informed to evacuate, to where, what about our homes, I later heard what was going on through the radio 2GB. The Emergency Services are amazing but lets not take it for granted that people know what to do if somthing really bad, really serious happens. All we know is call the police or fire, people did then but we did not know what happend after that for a while. Lucky the many emergency service in attendance had it under control. More clear information on ongoing basis is needed to go out to the public living within a few Kilometers of these large industries which can be a threat to out safety if things went wrong. Regards, Carlos

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Brian says:

    Sonja Stewart and Vicki D’Adam are very highly paid and clueless. They should not have survived beyond 2011.

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