.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.
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.
- Cuts delayed Caltex leak response: union (news.theage.com.au)
- NSW Budget Cuts delay Caltex leak fire response: Fire Union (justacceptit.wordpress.com)
- O’Farrell Budget Cuts delayed Caltex leak response: Fire Union (justacceptit.wordpress.com)
- Caltex starts clean up after fuel spill (bigpondnews.com)
- 130,000 litre-petrol spill in Sydney (stuff.co.nz)
- Caltex starts clean-up after fuel spill (news.theage.com.au)
- Petrol spill clean-up in NSW (bigpondnews.com)
- Failsafe system halts Sydney fuel leak (news.smh.com.au)
- 130,000 litres of unleaded fuel spills from Caltex oil terminal in Sydney (abc.net.au)
- Caltex’s Port Botany Refinery Will Be Shut For The Day After A Massive Oil Spill Put Three In Hospital (businessinsider.com)