In March 2014 we had a major chemical fire in the Brown Coal Open Cut Mine at Hazelwood, in Gippsland in Victoria.

This should never have occurred because the community thought there were Senior Technical specialists who understood that Brown Coal needs to be kept very wet by sprinklers, so that it does not compost, heat up and spontaneously combust, nor start burning from another ignition source. The SECV knew, the Morwell community knew, even a student doing a Risk Engineering subject, who visited in 1992 and was told by the SECV, knew.

How can such important knowledge have been lost by the Hazelwood management and their insurers?

The big issue here is that we no longer have any undergraduate courses, nor post graduate courses, in Hazardous Chemicals Management at the Senior Specialist level in Australia.

We can now only learn on the job, as apprentices to someone how may or may not know or understand the subtle detail.

Do we need to have more serious chemical incidents like this one before we get our training of Senior Specialists in Australia in order?

What do you think we should do?

 

Incidents occur because Senior Technical Specialists no longer exist

One thought on “Incidents occur because Senior Technical Specialists no longer exist

  • 6 October, 2015 at 8:53 am
    Permalink

    Thanks Jeff
    It is astounding that the deaths at ESSO Longford have not resonated with these companys. The lack of understanding by technical specialist was an outcome of The Esso Longford Gas Plant Accident Royal Commission.
    Recommendation 15.18: “…Esso should be required to show that plant operations are monitored and operating practices are overseen at an appropriate level. This would require an assurance that access to sufficient engineering, operating and maintenance skills would be available on site at all times…”
    The lessons of the past don’t appear to resonate that one must be ready for the, in this case, an expected emergency not just the normal processes of the day to day running of these high risk enterprises.
    Graeme Broderick

    Reply

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