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?
Send emails to Jeff Simpson’s email address on the Home Page.