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!

Dropped Drill Pipe on Landrig

Graham Marshall - Friday, May 17, 2013
The incident alert below serves as an additional warning to rig-crews on land-based rigs about the ever-present danger of a dropped drill pipe.

In this incident, a 150kg pipe fell about 6' to the drill floor after becoming unattached from a wire-line hook-up arrangement.

As expected in incidents of this type, a key critical failure resulted from a Procedural failure; which once again highlights the critical importance of having, and following drilling and completions Standard Operating Procedures.

Danger of Driving in Outback

Graham Marshall - Monday, May 06, 2013

The ever-present danger of driving in the "outback" of Australia is again re-iterated by this safety alert from Santos and APPEA.

The alert shows how a two-vehicle accident occurred when a closely-following vehicle collided with the another vehicle which had struck a kangaroo on the road.

The resulting accident caused both vehicles to roll-over.  Thankfully, the injuries to those concerned were not too severe.

Dangerous Vehicle Recovery

Graham Marshall - Thursday, April 25, 2013
The danger's of recovering vehicle's are highlighted in this safety alert from Santos and APPEA.

In the incident, a chain hook parted resulting in a chain "whipping" through the windscreen of the vehicle and narrowly missing the driver.

The alert highlights once again the critical need to follow appropriate Procedures for higher-risk jobs and to ensure that a real-time assessment is made which highlights the necessary controls to be used.

Vehicle Roll Over in Queensland

Graham Marshall - Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Safety Alert shown below highlights the dangers of pulling onto the soft shoulder of narrow rural  bitumen roads when allowing larger vehicles to pass.

In the recent incident in Queensland, two workers narrowly avoided serious injury or a fatality when they lost control of a vehicle, resulting in a high speed roll over.

The vehicle had been driven off the road to accommodate an oncoming truck on a narrow regional road.

The driver lost control of the vehicle on the unsealed road whilst attempting to return to the bitumen.

The Safety Alert illustrates a number of key learning points which are worth sharing with drivers exposed to rural road conditions.

Dropped Power Pole Incident Alert

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Safety Alert from APPEA which is shown below illustrates how a worker was lifting/erecting a "two-part" steel power pole when a joint in the pole separated causing the bottom section of the pole to slide into the pre-made hole and the top section (still attached to the crane) to swing down and hit the ground.

No personnel was injured.

Key learning for all such lifting operations include:

> Ensure manufacturer’s specifications are reviewed and followed for installation projects;

> Ensure exclusion zones are implemented and observed throughout lifting operations; and

> Verify certifications for lifting points on equipment or structures prior to lifting.

Vehicle Roll-overs are a Common Problem

Graham Marshall - Monday, December 24, 2012

This Safety Alert from APPEA demonstrates how easy it is to lose control of a vehicle when driving on oil-field roads.

It's been our experience that oil-field roads all over the world pose particular threats to drivers; whether it be from high-traffic volumes, the movement of large vehicles, use of roads by non-oilfield traffic, broken pavement, narrow roads, blown sand, blown snow, or other problematic weather factors like ice, fog or rain.

In all cases, the key to oil-field driving is to slow down, take your time, and plan ahead.

After all, it doesn't matter how quickly you get there, what matters is how quickly you stop at the end.


Safety Alert - BOP Failure

Graham Marshall - Saturday, December 22, 2012

The importance of servicing, period maintenance, and regular inspections of safety critical equipment is highlighted in this recent safety alert from APPEA.

The safety alert highlights how a Blow-out Preventer (BOP) failed under pressure on a drill rig, resulting in rig parts being uncontrollably ejected across the rig floor. 

One part was blown by the pressure release a distance of 9-10 meters (30 feet).

Thankfully, no rig crew members where injured during the incident.

Importance of Isolation Procedures

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Continuing on from yesterday's post, here is another excellent safety alert from the good folks at APPEA in Australia.

The alert highlights how a 1 ton diverter plate was allowed to uncontrollably fall, narrowly missing a worker, when the support mechanisms for the plate were inadequate.

As with many such types of incidents, the safety alert notes that a significant causal factor related to inadequate procedures for what was, a significant risk activity.  The weakness in procedural control was highlighted in relation to required isolation processes to control the kinetic energy in the plate.




Management of Change on Drill Rigs

Graham Marshall - Monday, December 10, 2012

This week, starting Monday 10th of December, I'm dedicating the Risk Tool Box blog to a fantastic series of important safety alerts put out by APPEA down-under in Australia.

Starting today, you can read this safety alert regarding the importance of having a thorough Management of Change (MOC) process for any changes which are made to a facility.

In the example shown here, a walkway on an onshore drill-rig was modified, but insufficient MOC was performed and the walkway later collapsed under load with two rig hands standing on the walkway.

Thankfully, neither of the workers was injured.  But the potential was there for very serious consequences.




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