Safety and Evacuation in Industrial Zone


2010 is a different era to 2006 when the developer presented their case for building within the buffer zone to the Advisory Committee on C33 Hobsons Bay City Council’s Industrial Land Management Strategy

Industrial_Land_Management_Strategy240608.pdf   Tenix operated the shipyards with a skeleton staff and no contracts, 4 years later the current operator BAE Systems has a flourishing business employing 1500 and possibly even more with major contracts as prime contractor for the Construction and Integration of Amphibious Ships and subcontractor to a $300M AWD contract.  Port of Melbourne has a deeper channel in Port Phillip Bay giving access to larger tankers and more chemicals arriving there than in the past.

This is a nationally strategic shipbuilding site as recently verified by Commonwealth Department of Defence and a site of significant for Energy Victoria. There has also been a recent (2010) VCAT decision to disallow residential building in Stephens St Yarraville due to the proximity to industry and the requirement for a buffers zone.  Best practice in distances between residential and industrial sites has changed significantly after the explosions at Buncefield in the UK, In a worst case scenario with a disaster at Point Gellibrand, would cars from the development block streets and prevent escape and block essential rescue services from reaching the site. Would Minister’s be held responsible for BAD decisions to ignore the need for proper buffer zones where commercial activities under Worksafe control were allowed but not residential with people sleeping overnight in the buffer zone.

Even the recent Bushfire Commission in Victoria is insisting that those at the top of organisations and ministers need to be personally liable for not adopting a cautious approach to documented and undocumented dangers.  Requirements of Worksafe and the EPA need to be taken VERY seriously.

Are shipping fires in port a furphy. View this video about the ship explosion in Istanbul in 1997


Building residential dwellings within a safety buffer zone...

The need for Safety Buffer Distances as well as Amenity Buffer Distances was highlighted by both Save Williamstown and Mobil at the Ports and Environs Advisory Committee in September.  An edited version of the Save Williamstown presentation can be viewed on this YouTube clip

We cannot be complacent and ignore risk.  The Western Suburbs has had its own tragedy in 1991 with the Coode Island explosion

Measurements show that Mobil has bund protected tanks, pipes and docking facilities for chemicals within 300 metres of the proposed development.  The South West corner of land leased to Mobil is 260 metres from the Former Port Phillip Woollen Mill Site and therefore where the developer of Nelson Place Village is intent on building the 46.5 m high-rise apartments in within the “danger” buffer zone of 300 metres.  Given Coode Island and Buncefield is it responsible for our Victorian Government to give ANY approvals for such a residential development?

In the discussion paper issued by the Ports and Environs Advisory Committee March 2010, there is a section devoted to consideration of the Former Port Phillip Woollen Mill Site.$File/Ports+and+Environs+AC+Discussion+Paper.pdf

The section referring to the Former Port Phillip Woollen Mill Site can be viewed here

The recent bushfires have shown the difficulties in evacuating residents at times of “instant” danger.  Is it responsible for approval to be given to a high rise development at this location whilst chemicals arrive at this port.

There are also the residential “quality of life” issues which need considering. Can residents live comfortably alongside heavy industry?  Can they bring up children safely in this environment? BAE Systems is a large organisation with 1500 employees and Mobil is also a large employer. Would it be detrimental to these large scale employers if residents complained (as they have done in Garden Island Sydney) about noise, lights, smells from the industrial operations 24/7? Is it reasonable for residents not to be able to open windows at night or sit out on balconies?

Although Mobil will probably be formulating its own response, we also need experts in safety issues and the interface of industry and residences to help formulate a community response.

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