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Defence Department: Staff at Fuel Stations Exposed to High Workplace Health and Safety Risks

Posted by Robert O'Neill on Apr 29, 2015 6:01:00 AM
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fuel stationAccording to internal reports, with dilapidated petroleum facilities being shut down as being close to the members of the public, Defence Department employees were reported to have been exposed to extreme workplace health and safety risks at fuel stations.

Improperly maintained fuel stations and hazardous operating practices have long plagued the department, according to an unreleased review with the ongoing investigation into the Defence Department’s fuel supply chain.

The department was still considering options on making itself ruthless particularly when it came down to keeping track of fuel losses, where at the moment, they have minimal information as to how much fuel they are losing. Reports have indicated that there were not enough checks to vouch that they were not losing fuel or that fuel was not being stolen.

The same report suggested the use of the oil industry’s best accounting methods to eliminate any unnecessary losses.

In some cases however the report mentioned that there was too much fuel being kept—so much so that it was violating regulations put in place by the elite leaders who meet with chiefs of service committee.

Fairfax Media got hold of the controversial documents using a freedom of information request.

The reports said two Darwin fuel stations (Fuel Farm 4 at a RAAF base in Darwin and DFI-M Stokes Hill headquartered in the centre of Darwin) had to be demolished and closed respectively.

Defence confirmed the information that Stokes Hill was closed in 2014. The said fuel station bore grueling evidence of Japanese bombing during the Second World War. The report also explained that given the proximity of the fuel stations to the Darwin CBD, it carries with it increased levels of risks for both the residential and tourism areas surrounding it and that it should therefore by permanently decommissioned at the soonest possible time.

Fuel Farm 4 at RAAF Base Darwin has just been recently closed and should likewise be demolished.

The recommendations on the review included clauses on cuts to staff numbers.

Since 2012, Defence Department has considerably reduced its workforce by around 3,000 and in the next couple of year will be cutting off another 1650 jobs.

The report likewise indicated that reforms to create the new fuel supply chain for Defence would incur a total cost of around $8 million in a span of 18 months.

Expenses are expected to blow out because of the yet-to-be-known costs of upgrading rundown underground pipes and demolishing fuel installations.

The review also reported that general terms and conditions in procurement rules did not encourage major oil corporations from bidding for the fuel supply contracts of the department which resulted in a reduction in competition and a single source for the supply, costing Defence up $900,000 for a year.

Defence did not agree with a recommendation to ignore regular procurement practices to hasten the purchase of aviation refuelling trucks. It had taken half a decade just to complete the stage preparation of a tender and the report suggested going through the normal procurement procedure just to get the job done.

Topics: Hazard and Risk Management