U.S. energy giant Chevron has been accused by the mining union of failing to evacuate their workers from the Gorgon gas project on Barrow Island, which is located on the north-west coast of Western Australia, despite the declaration of the cyclone as a category three and was bound to ravage the region.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMEU) of the West Australian branch reported that around 1,600 workers were forced to stay within the common areas of the project's accommodation camps and sleep on blow-up mattresses because there were not enough rooms to accommodate them.
The powerful Tropical Cyclone Olwyn is making its way along the Pilbara coast and tracking to Exmouth’s south-west that is now without power.
The Bureau of Meteorology of Western Australia announced that the category three system means the powerful cyclone will come bombarding the affecting area with destructive wind gusts that will reach to at almost 195 kilometres per hour as well as heavy downpour is it moves close to the coast south toward the Coral Bay.
Mick Buchan, WA state secretary for the CFMEU said that the ABC Chevron management should have had the initiative to have their workers evacuated earlier.
“It's an appalling situation on Barrow Island,” Mr. Buchan said. “There is up to 1,600 workers that are just left in cluster areas, common areas, in the accommodation that’s designed to withstand the cyclones when they come through. These cluster areas are full of blow-up mattresses.” The state secretary further expressed his sincere concern for the workers and great disappointment with the Chevron management for putting the workers at risk instead of having them simply evacuated at an earlier time.
One worker who wished not to be identified in this report said that staff were forced to sleep in accommodation rooms that were built to endure category two cyclones despite the fact that Cyclone Olwyn was categorized as a type 3 cyclone. The worker further discussed that under the contracts that they signed, they could always choose to leave the workspace if there was a cyclone but those who wanted to leave were prohibited from doing so as they were informed that many birds were on the airstrip, which he found puzzling as birds do not normally nest during a cyclone.
Workers are furious and have warned of starting out mutiny because they believe that the authority just did not want to shell out such a big expense of flying out hundreds of their employees to safety ground.
On the other hand, Chevron did not admit to committing the accusations thrown at them by the union that it ignored the safety of their workers at the Gorgon gas project site. In a statement released by the management, Chevron said in its defence that they were just basically all the regular procedures they should during cyclone warnings.