Mobil’s operations in Hobsons Bay have a poor record in recent years, prompting many residents to be concerned about their safety and the safety of the local environment. As the councillor for Altona and Seaholme, I will continue to advocate on behalf of our community until Mobil improves the safety and environmental impacts of their Altona Refinery, including improving its appearance along Kororoit Creek and Millers Roads. Mobil are understandably upset with my position because I am a strong advocate for our community and our environment. Sadly they have responded by making complaints about me but it will not stop me from fulfilling my obligations to our community. I sincerely hope Mobil realises it’s easier working with me and the community, rather than oppose us and treat us with the spin and nonsense contained in their so-called “Community Bulletin”. The information on this page is provided to help educate our community in an open and transparent way about what is happening at Mobil. I will continue to update this page but hope there won’t be any further incidents to report. There are a number of things that disappointment me regarding Mobil, and they are highlighted best when I compare Mobil with another local petrochemical company – Qenos. Qenos maintain their plant including the amenity along Kororoit Creek Road and Maidstone St, they invest heavily into upgrades (their cogeneration plant will soon make them completely independent from the power grid, and their other upgrades have reduced the amount of water used on site, reduced their carbon footprint, etc), and importantly they communicate with the community about maintenance and work very well with the council. They also sponsor local events and groups in Altona. Mobil on the other hand:-
- regularly emit foul smells,
- have had lots of incidents (as shown below),
- don’t maintain the appearance of their tanks, grounds and plant (the amenity around Kororoit Creek and Millers Roads is a disgrace),
- don’t support clubs and events in Altona, Seaholme, Altona North and Newport that are most affected by their operations (they chose to sponsor clubs like the Williamstown Life Saving Club and provide free Opera in Williamstown, and give lots more $$ elsewhere),
- deny incidents when they occur,
- fail to communicate with residents and the council,
- don’t properly follow up on complaints, and
- refuse to invest on upgrades to their site complaining that their head office won’t give them any funds and that if they push too hard their head office might close them down.
As another example, Qenos have large pipes connecting their plant on one side of Maidstone St to the other, much like Mobil has on Kororoit Creek Road. Qenos however, have their pipes underground. Why don’t Mobil do that? Instead we’re left with their pipes dropping a fluid substance on our cars as we drive under them. Qenos also paint their tanks and they’ve worked with local residents to pick a fairly neutral colour. Mobil’s tanks are either painted white or a left an ugly (and concerning) shade of rust.
2004 to 2006 (clean up still ongoing)
Mobil leaked unleaded petrol from its pipeline under Champion Road, Newport for two years from December 2004. The leak was only detected after residents became aware of a strong petrol odour. Some residents reported feeling unwell and petrol was also discovered in the water supply of a nearby commercial property. The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court ordered Mobil to pay $350,000 to fund local environmental projects and pay the EPA $160,000 in costs.
- The Hobsons Bay Leader (18 December 2008) – “Mobil says sorry for Newport petrol leak” – http://hobsons-bay-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/mobil-says-sorry-for-newport-petrol-leak/
Mobil Altona had a fire in one of its laboratories which took about 40 firefighters and nine trucks to take under control.
- The Hobsons Bay Leader (9 June 2010) – “Firefighters tackle blaze at Altona oil refinery” – http://hobsons-bay-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/fire-at-mobile-refinery/
An ageing 10 million litre fuel tank at Mobil Altona leaked fuel causing an emergency situation as reported in the metropolitan and local media (see below). The facts of this incident include:
- The spill was estimated by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade as being approximately 30,000 litres of fuel.
- The area surrounding the tank was covered in foam as a precaution.
- The tank contained 3.5 million litres of volatile fuel when it leaked.
- The MFB had 60 firefighters on site, including 8 pumpers, 1 rescue unit, 1 aerial unit and 4 other units in response to this incident.
- The leak occurred at 11:47pm on 8 February and took over 16 hours for the tank to be emptied.
Media articles about this incident:
- The Age (9 February 2010) “Peak-hour delays as crews mop up refinery spill” - http://www.theage.com.au/national/peakhour-delays-as-crews-mop-up-refinery-spill-20100209-nnjx.html
- The Age (9 February 2010) Video – “Massive fuel leak in Altona” – http://media.theage.com.au/massive-fuel-leak-in-altona-1104108.html
- The Age (10 February 2010) “Mobil in damage control as leak sparks ire” – http://www.theage.com.au/national/mobil-in-damage-control-as-leak-sparks-ire-20100209-npr1.html
- Petrol leak – Mobil Refinery, Altona – Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board.pdf
- The Sydney Morning Herald (9 February 2011) – Vic refinery leaks petrol near wetlands – http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/vic-refinery-leaks-petrol-near-wetlands-20100209-nnlt.html
- ABC News (9 February 2011) – “Fuel drained from leaking tank” – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/09/2814231.htm
- The Australian (9 February 2011) – “Mobil Altona petrol tank leak ‘poses no danger to wetlands, Kororoit Creek’” – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/mobil-altona-petrol-tank-leak-poses-no-danger-to-wetlands-kororoit-creek/story-fn3dxiwe-1225828124694
- NineNews (9 February 2010) – “Vic refinery leaks petrol near wetlands” – http://news.ninemsn.com.au/mobile/article.aspx?id=1009870&_sp=2045&noid=6303&_s=ffffffff-ffff-ffff-ffff-ffffffffffff
Emergency services were called to respond to a gas leak at the Mobil Altona Refinery at 7am on 4 March 2010. The gas supply to the plant was shut off and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade declared the situation under control just after 7.30am. Media articles about this incident:
- The Hobsons Bay Leader (4 March 2010) – “Mobil investigates Altona gas leak” – http://hobsons-bay-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/gas-leak-at-mobil-refinery-in-altona/
A power outage at around 8.30pm on 16 May resulted in the refinery going into “safe mode” resulting in significant flaring which many residents described as explosions and large fires at the plant. The flares could be seen from as far as Tarniet, and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade responded with four trucks and 16 firefighters. The flaring continued for some time, but the incident was declared safe at 10pm. More information about this incident:
- You Tube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-klHCgPdoU
- Ninemsn – http://video.au.msn.com/watch/video/spectacular-blaze-at-mobil-oil-refinery/xi8vpjh
WorkSafe Victoria imposed new conditions on Mobil’s licence to operate in Altona due to “persisting health and safety incidents since the facility was last licensed in 2007. The refinery has also been reporting more incidents than other facilities of a similar size”. WorkSafe’s media release dated 3 June 2010 states: The objective of imposing licence conditions is to prompt Mobil to identify any shortcomings in their safety inspection and maintenance systems, and rectify them before incidents have a chance to occur,” Acting Executive Director for Health and Safety Stan Krpan said. The new licence conditions will come into force from later this month, and will last until December 2012. By November this year, Mobil has to meet a number of specific conditions. These will need to be demonstrated to WorkSafe through written evidence and inspections: Analyse past incidents to identify the causes, and address causes through improvements to safety inspection and maintenance systems demonstrate that these improvements mean the risk of incidents (such as leaks or spillage) is significantly reduced. “We’re interested in getting Mobil to identify what isn’t working, and fix it,” Mr Krpan said. “It will mean that Mobil will need to put more time and effort into safety inspection and maintenance. “Meeting these licence conditions will mean that Mobil is reducing the risk of incidents at the refinery, and safely managing any incidents that do happen. “Victoria’s regulations for major hazard facilities are the strongest in the country. We expect Mobil to comply. The local community deserves the assurance that these issues will be better managed,” he said.Further information about this:
- ABC News (3 June 2010) – Mobil on notice over Altona refinery – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/03/2917132.htm
- Herald Sun (3 June 2010) – “Mobil rebuked by EPA over environmental performance in Melbourne” – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/mobil-rebuked-by-epa-over-environmental-performance-in-melbourne/story-e6frf7jo-1225874914287
5 February 2011
Mobil Altona Refinery were forced to clean up a fuel leak from their refinery into the Kororoit Creek.
10 February 2011
Mobil Altona Refinery lost power again, resulting in an emergency shut down process including flaring.
Mobil refinery in Yarraville has been widely blamed as the cause of a gas odour across Melbourne on 11 May 2011, resulting in evacuations of buildings. Further information about this:
- Hobsons Bay Weekly (12 May 2011) – “Mobil gas odour covers city” – http://www.hobsonsbayweekly.com.au/news/local/news/general/mobil-gas-odour-covers-city/2161428.aspx
- Hobsons Bay Leader (12 May 2011) – “Yarraville terminal blamed for gas smell” – http://hobsons-bay-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/yarraville-terminal-blamed-for-gas-smell/
- The Australia (11 May 2011) – “‘Gas’ Smell sourced from Melbourne oil refinery” – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/gas-smell-sourced-from-melbourne-oil-refinery/story-fn3dxity-1226054302190
- Herald Sun – (11 May 2011) – “Mobil terminal malfunction in Yarraville likely to be behind strong gas smell” – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/gas-leak-forces-evacuations-closes-business-in-seville-east-of-melbourne/story-e6frf7jo-1226054168102
- Herald Sun – (12 May 2011) – “Strong ‘gas’ smell from oil refinery” – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/gas-leak-forces-evacuations-closes-business-in-seville-east-of-melbourne/story-e6frf7jo-1226054168102
Photos from these incidents from the various newspapers are provided below.