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05 Sep 2018

Regulator Commits to Hazelwood Fire Staffing Levels

Earth Resources Regulation today reaffirmed its commitment to ensure the Latrobe Valley community will remain protected from the risk of fire at the Hazelwood Mine through the upcoming bushfire season.

Hazelwood Mine has complied with a notice issued by Earth Resources Regulation to reinstate a competent workforce to prevent, detect and extinguish coal mine fires, under the current low fire risk conditions.

However, Hazelwood Power Corporation Pty Ltd (ENGIE) has advised that it has lodged a VCAT appeal to contest the reinstatement of a competent workforce to prevent, detect and extinguish coal mine fires in higher fire danger periods when more staff are required.

Earlier this year ENGIE, in alleged breach of its approved Work Plan, reduced fire control staff at the Hazelwood mine.

Earth Resources Regulation is focussed on requiring ENGIE to reinstate appropriate staffing levels at the mine prior to the summer fire danger period, which has been brought forward by the CFA for parts of Gippsland.

ENGIE has proposed a workforce short of the level required to prevent, detect and quickly respond to a fire seven-days a week, 24-hours a day when the fire danger rating is higher than the current low level.

This is particularly concerning as higher fire danger periods is when the threat to safety is greatest at the mine site and to surrounding property, local infrastructure and the Latrobe Valley community.

Earth Resources Regulation, alongside the CFA and Worksafe, has identified the expected minimum levels of staffing as the fire danger rating rises, in line with a key principle of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry to be capable of a ‘fast determined first attack’ should fire break out.

In 2014 the Hazelwood mine fire burnt for 45 days, affecting the whole Latrobe Valley community.

Quotes attributable to Earth Resources Regulation’s Executive Director Anthony Hurst

“Earth Resources Regulation reaffirms its commitment to ensure that ENGIE reinstates a competent workforce to prevent and control fires at the Hazelwood coal mine, in readiness for the upcoming summer fire danger period.”

“Earth Resources Regulation will consider any appeal lodged by ENGIE with VCAT.”

“This is a disappointing situation, but I would like to reassure the Latrobe Valley community that we will not take risks with the regulation of the mine and will pursue all legal avenues to ensure compliance.”

Contact: Lewis Hill

Phone: 03 8392 6735