Calls for Chevron to shut down plant over WHS concerns

Calls for Chevron to shut down plant over WHS concerns

A large Australian union is calling for oil and gas behemoth Chevron to shut down its Gorgon plant, after “thousands” of cracks were found in essential components, with workers “fearing for their safety”.

The Gorgon project is one of the world’s largest natural gas projects, which operates on Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia, near Karratha.

The Australian Manufacturing Worker’s union has had reports of damaged kettle heat exchangers on the site, with inspections revealing cracks as long as a metre and 30 millimetres deep had been uncovered on as many as eight exchangers.

The items carry pressurised propane, which is highly explosive. The parts were manufactured in Korea at the same as two other trains which are still in use, prompting further safety concerns.

AMWU WA Secretary Steve McCartney explained that “the reports we’re hearing of over eight kettles being damaged represents a serious failure in this critical piece of kit.”

“If multiple kettles are showing cracks in testing on Train 2, there is a high risk there are cracks inv the vessels on other trains. If these cracks are in the vessels, they cannot be fixed, and they need to be replaced immediately.

“These kettles are carrying pressurised propane and the trains are lined up next to each other on the plate.

“We’re hearing from workers that they’re fearful for their safety and are reluctant to even go out to the blast-proof wall. We share their fears.”

Mr McCartney cited these fears when he called on Chevron to shut down the operations until it was able to safely repair or replace the parts. He has also implored the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety to back a shut down so that all elements requiring maintenance or repairs could be adequately tested.

A Chevron spokeswoman declined to answer whether the site would shut down operations, but confirmed that inspections were ongoing and the relevant safety and regulatory bodies had been informed.

“Learnings from the current maintenance event will inform future turnarounds and afford the same opportunities for improvements,” she said.

“Across the Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone facilities, the company has scheduled a turnaround every year for the next four years.”


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