O’Farrell Budget Cuts delayed Caltex leak response: Fire Union


FBEU members outside NSW Parliament House

FBEU members outside NSW Parliament House (Photo credit: socialistalternative)

Cuts delayed Caltex leak response: union

.A fire station close to the Caltex oil spill was shut because of budget cuts when the incident occurred, delaying the response of emergency crews, a union says.

A clean-up operation is underway at the Banksmeadow terminal in Sydney’s south after around 130,000 litres of fuel escaped early on Friday when a valve malfunction about 1.30am (AEST) on Monday.

The closure of Botany Fire Station, just three kilometres away, meant it took emergency crews longer to get to the terminal, the Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU) says.

The situation was extremely dangerous and could easily have turned deadly, FBEU secretary Jim Casey said.

“When this valve failed … sparking a major emergency and forcing the implementation of a one kilometre exclusion zone, a fire station just three kilometres up the road was sitting empty because of a dangerous budget-cutting policy,” he said in a statement.

The FBEU said budget cuts to Fire and Rescue NSW had led to a policy of stations being temporarily closed and staff sent to fill shortages at other stations.

The policy meant the Botany crew was 15 kilometres away at Campsie station at the time of the leak.

The temporary closure of fire stations is putting workers and communities at risk, Mr Casey says.

“This policy … is leaving communities exposed to greater fire risks as local fire stations are shut on a daily basis,” he said.

“This morning’s incident at the Caltex terminal reinforces that it is a matter of when, not if, this cut to front-line fire services will lead to a tragedy.”

The leak was contained after hazmat crews applied foam to prevent the petrol fumes mixing with air and forming an explosive mixture.

Caltex was now pumping the leaked fuel into a nearby holding tank.

Two workers carrying out maintenance at the time of the spill were doused with fuel.

They were taken to Prince of Wales Hospital as a precaution, but have since been discharged.

A firefighter exposed to the fumes also took himself to hospital, suffering a headache.

About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 years experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a former Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.

1 Comment on O’Farrell Budget Cuts delayed Caltex leak response: Fire Union

  1. Reblogged this on Justacceptit's Blog and commented:
    Closing Fire Stations in Sydney – Is the Government insane!


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