Tuesday 20th June 2017


The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) is seeking a guarantee from Viva Energy that it will not disband the Geelong refinery’s onsite Emergency Response Group (ERG).


AWU Victorian Secretary Ben Davis said breaking up the ERG posed unacceptable risks to the workforce, the neighbouring community, the environment and responders called in to deal with incidents. 


“The idea was first raised in January 2016 and met with dismay on all sides, but it is now back on the table,” Mr Davis said.


“This is a major hazard facility and cutting corners on emergency response is not an option.”


The AWU has released a report on the broad-ranging role of the ERG and its experienced and dedicated officers, highlighting the critical nature of their work in preventing and stemming damaging incidents.


“This report spells out how many different ways in which Emergency Response Officers use their experience and specialist skills,” Mr Davis said.


“Emergency response and monitoring at an oil refinery should be maintained by experts in that oil refinery. It is not something that should or could be farmed out in bits and pieces, as has been proposed.”


The proposal that refinery operators would take on an additional responsibility as occasional responders was unworkable. The suggestion that CFA officers, including volunteers would be called upon as firefighters at the refinery was irresponsible, Mr Davis said.


“Any and all aspects of safety at an oil refinery cannot be left to chance,” Mr Davis said.


“It is simply not fair to workers, the community or emergency responders to dismantle this skilled and experience Emergency Response Group on the basis it will probably be okay.”


Click here to read that report.