The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Well done to Santos

Graham Marshall - Friday, March 14, 2014

The Greenies reaction to the news of aquifer contamination - which actually occurred several years ago - at a location recently purchased by Santos in NSW shows how these people try to create a climate of fear around low-risk and low-impact events.

In response to the leak, NSW Labor put out a press release stating that: “The O’Farrell Government’s Memorandum of Understanding with Santos to fast track the approval process for Coal Seam Gas mining in the Pilliga forest should be torn up in light of revelations of contamination of the water aquifer.”

And the Greens exclaimed that this event meant it was "game over for coal seam gas”.

Which is, of course, their ultimate aim to achieve.

Many environmental groups have also leapt on the bandwagon to justify their opposition to Coal Seam Gas (CSG).

But what actually happened - and more importantly - what is the risk?

Several years ago a retaining dam was constructed in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri, to hold produced water extracted from wells drilled in the search for CSG.

The dam was not lined properly and it leaked.

The leaking water then entered an aquifer.

According to the NSW EPA, the contaminated aquifer - being inside the Pilliga forest - was not used for livestock, crop irrigation or human consumption.

But the leaking water contained NORM - Naturally-occurring Radioactive Materials - and other naturally-occurring minerals found in bedrock through which the drill-string passed (e.g., lead, arsenic and barium).

Fast forward to a couple of years ago - when Santos purchased the legacy asset from the original owners.

In looking over the asset as part of its due-diligence process (a good way to identify environmental issues so they can be managed properly), Santos themselves discovered the problem with the dam.

You'll recall that the dam was constructed by the prior owner of the operation before Santos acquired it.

Being a good corporate citizen, however, Santos then reported the leaking dam to the EPA.

For whatever legal reason, the NSW EPA fined Santos $1,500 because the dam leak (which occurred prior to Santos' ownership) had contaminated the aquifer.

Maybe fair enough I guess.

But the Greenies jumped on the story and the minor fine to beef-up the talk and transform the issue of NORM into "Uranium" poisoning in drinking water and lead, arsenic, and barium toxicity.

The Greenies know that "Uranium" holds a special place of fear in the human psyche due to its association atomic bombs.

So they'll stoop to any level of fear-mongering in their desperate attempt to convince the Australian population that Santos and the search for CSG is evil.

The reality, in this case, is that a small and relatively low consequence spill, with absolutely low-risk consequence to animal or public health should not be allowed to stand in the way of a billion-dollar industry that creates tens of thousands of jobs for Australians.

And Santos should be congratulated for its environmental practices; firstly discovering the leak, secondly reporting it to the EPA, and finally, in remediating it!

Well done Santos!

Environment Agency Incident Hotline

Graham Marshall - Friday, February 07, 2014
The UKs Environment Agency has a new Incident Hotline for members of the public to report pollution incidents that they may see.  The new number is 0800 807060.

ATSB Hot Work Safety Video

Graham Marshall - Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is urging all maritime workers and boat owners to watch a short online safety video that features an accident involving a crew member on board a ship who was tragically killed by an explosion while cutting a used 200 litre drum with an angle grinder.

The ATSB has investigated several accidents involving "hot-work" cutting of used fuel drums in the marine industry.

In all cases, the  accidents could have been prevented if the workers had just given some time to think about the hazards involved and followed proper "hot-work" procedures.

The video provides a powerful reminder to all seafarers of the need to take make sure that hazards involved in "hot-work" are appropriately managed.

To view the video, click this link.

Water Pump Explosions

Graham Marshall - Friday, September 06, 2013

Carcinogenic Diesel Fumes in Mines

Graham Marshall - Thursday, July 25, 2013

Diesel exhaust fumes were reclassified as a carcinogen to humans in June 2012.

That change has implications for the mining industry as many mines use diesel engines in some form or other.

The law in Australia requires that:

+  Mine operators ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health of workers;

+  Fumes from diesel plant in underground parts of a mine are minimized as far as reasonably practicable;

+  Management systems to control diesel pollutants in the underground parts of a coal operation are in place; and

+  All mines should have a documented strategy to control diesel emissions with the objective of minimizing people’s exposure to the lowest level reasonably practicable.

For full details and recommendations see SB13-03 Diesel Emissions in Mines and other safety bulletins published by the Resources Safety Department in NSW.

Proposed Changes to ADG7

Graham Marshall - Thursday, July 18, 2013
Australian Truckies carrying dangerous goods will soon need to change the way they store thier transport documents. 

A proposal from the National Transport Commission (NTC) to bring the 7th edition of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG7) in line with international regulations makes changes to the storage of transport documents. 

The ADG7 is based in the United Nations’ model regulations. 

The NTC says its proposed amendments will adopt the latest UN regulations. ADG7 was published in 2007 to align with the 15th edition of the UN regulations. 

The UN regulations are now in their 17th edition. 

The main new requirement is for drivers to be made to store transport documents in Emergency Information Holders (EIHs). 

The ADG7 does not currently dictate how transport documents should be carried or where theyshould be located.

This has often made it difficult for enforcement or emergency response officers to locate them. 

The new provision from NTC imposes a clear requirement for drivers to carry transport documents in EIHs when moving placarded loads. 

The NTC’s proposal will also amend the code to make it a condition for supplying transport documents suitable for placing in EIHs.

It says the amendment is designed to address the problem of operators and drivers receiving documents that do not fit in the holders. 

The new provision will also prevent drivers being handed documentation in sealed envelopes from consignors.

The public has been given until September 2 to provide feedback on the NTC’s recommendation. 

Hydrocarbon Releases in the North Sea for 2012

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hydrocarbon releases in the UK sector of the North Sea reached a record low last year according to new figures from the Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE).

There were 97 incidents reported to the UK HSE in 2012.

This is down from 133 reported incidents in 2011 and continuing a long-term downward trend.

The figures reveal a 48 per cent reduction in the number of hydrocarbon releases over the last three years – just short of the target the industry set itself in 2010 to halve releases.

The target was set following pressure from the UK HSE to improve performance.

In 2009 there were 187 hydrocarbon releases, of which 86 were classified as significant or major (84 significant and two major).

Bromic Issues Safety Alert on LPG Pigtails

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Bromic has issued a safety alert over its stainless steel flexible pigtails, used commonly by cylinder refillers and gas fitters.

According to the safety alert, LPG cylinders fitted with Bromic’s stainless steel flexible pigtails can under extreme conditions, malfunction, with the end fitting connected to the regulator or cylinder valve separating from the hose assembly. 

The safety alert covers Bromic stainless steel flexible pigtails under approval number AGA 66223 manufactured between January 2011 and December 2012, with the information confirmed on a red label on the product. 

All people refilling LPG cylinders should watch out for the integrity of the affected Bromic flexible stainless steel pigtails. 

If they are seen to exhibit any sign of potential separation, or there are other concerns, they should be replaced. 

If equivalent copper pigtails are present during inspection, changeover should be immediately completed. 

If not, contact should be made to Bromic for supply of equivalent copper or alternate flexible pigtail replacements.

Benzene in Home Garages Poses Risk to Health

Graham Marshall - Sunday, May 26, 2013
If you have a garage attached to your house, you could be at higher risk of developing leukemia or other forms of cancer. 

That's because benzene and other fumes from car exhaust could be entering your house.

Benzene is a volatile organic compound, or VOC, that’s found naturally in crude oil and thus in gasoline and vehicle exhaust.

There are already low levels of benzene in the air all around us due to air pollution from motor vehicle exhaust. 


Researcher's from Health Canada’s indoor air section has conducted studies measuring levels of the gas in homes across Canada. 

Benzene levels in houses with attached garages were found to be around three times higher than of other houses without garages.

And even after a car is turned off, the engine will continue to emit benzene into the air as it sits in the garage. 

Paints and solvents that many homeowners store in their garage may also emit benzene as they slowly evaporate. 

Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and the European Commission recommend that people reduce their exposure to benzene as much as possible. 

Studies have shown that benzene can definitely cause problems if people are exposed to high levels over long periods of time.

Workers in industrial settings exposed to high levels of benzene have been shown to have a much higher risk of leukemia.

Benzene is dangerous because of the damage it can do to the blood. 

It causes bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, while also damaging the immune system by not creating enough white blood cells.

Homeowner are advised to never idle a vehicle inside a garage, but to let it warm up outside. 

Other recommendations for minimizing the transfer of garage air to the home include:

   Make sure the weather stripping around the door to the garage is continuous and in good shape;

   Have spray foam insulation installed to seal the wall between the house and garage. Then drywall can be installed over top to further reduce air leakage;

   A similar approach can be taken to seal the ceiling space between the garage and any rooms above. This will also help reduce energy costs and keep the floors warmer; and

   Another approach involves installing an exhaust fan to vent garage air to the outside. The fan would also help depressurize the garage relative to the house, thereby preventing air movement from the garage to the house, even if leaks exist.

Danger of Heating Sealed Tanks

Graham Marshall - Thursday, May 23, 2013
The dangers of applying heat ("hot work") to sealed hydraulic cylinders is highlighted in the safety alert from Work Safe in Western Australia.
The safety alert was published following the fatality of a worker who died when using an oxy-torch to cut a cylinder.
The tank exploded.


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