A Perth Veteran who participated in the 1958 atomic testing at the Montebello Islands is still tirelessly struggling to receive compensation he is legally owed after willing a compo case in the federal courts.
Kenneth Whitby, 74 suffers from several ailments including an anxiety disorder, following his exposure at the site.
Whitby’s case was undertaken by WA Greens senator Scott Ludlum, who is confident that those who served in the Montebellos and two other atomic test sites should be subject to the receiving of the veterans’ Gold Card.
The card covers all medical costs, which is footed by the Government. Senator Ludlam recalled that many servicemen who had worked at the sites, have since developed radiation-related disorders.
Whitby and hundreds of other veterans have been battling for recognition and compensation and accuse the Department of Veterans Affairs of dragging out their claims.
In June last year, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled Mr Whitby was entitled to compensation.
“What is the AAT there for,” Mr Whitby said.
“Remember that politician who fell off his bicycle near Parliament? They backdated his compensation.”
The DVA would not discuss Mr Whitby’s case when probed.
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Emergency services rushed to the scene upon receiving reports of spilled chemical and vapour cloud emanating from the area. Queensland Fire and Rescue Spokesman said paramedics were on the site helping and treating the four individuals who were injured in the leak.
Reports indicated that the four workers weren’t seriously hurt but they are seeking treatment.
A Hazmat crew and scientific officer also joined the fire services at the scene. The leak is said to be under control and it is still undetermined how the leak was caused.
This incident follows the Boral Asphalt factory explosion. The massive factory explosion rocked Narangba and caused black smoke to be visible from a significant distance away. Reports on how the factory explosion were also sketchy but fortunately all workers were accounted for. Boral is currently investigating an explosion that caused a fire at one of their plants in Queensland.
Six workers for the Boral plant were given the all clear by paramedics . The Company’s general manager said the explosion occurred when a holding tank suddenly released pressure.
The resulting blaze took up to eight fire crews to control.
Mr McGuire said there was no clear cause for the explosion.
“We are working closely with the appropriate authorities and undertaking a comprehensive investigation into the cause of the accident,” he said in a statement.
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WorkSafe is confident Esso’s claims that systems have been implemented to improve the safety of workers at the Longford Gas Plant. In 2009 a gas leak occurred which has since resulted in the company’s conviction and a fine of $40,000.
Court hearings revealed that an operator was injured when over half-a-tonne of gas burst from a high pressure valve. Worksafe’s Jarrod Edwards stated that the company pleaded guilty and has made efforts to improve their safety measures and training since the incident. Edwards added “”Certainly WorkSafe takes all incidents that are reported to us seriously and we have diligently followed up to understand the reasons this has occurred and we have assured ourselves that Esso has the systems in place to not only prevent this happening again in the future but the systems in place to monitor the effectiveness of those systems,”
According to Edwards, Esso has since begun putting more focus behind training for operators and job safety analysis systems since the offence.
WorkSafe is reportedly pleased with the response of Esso, and it is their hopes that the company will learn from the scenario and continue to focus on strong safety systems.
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Four people had to be decontaminated and moved to an exclusion zone following a chemical leak from storage containers in the Port of Brisbane.Emergency services were called to the scene early in the morning after reports revealed that potentially harmful chemicals were leaking onto a boat and the dock.
A spokesperson for the Department of Safety stated that the cause of leak was unclear as is the type of chemical that seeped from the containers.
Approximately four people were reported as suffering from mild headaches and bouts of nausea. They’ve since been treated by paramedics at the scene and will be decontaminated by Queensland Fire and Rescue service. The contaminated individuals will be held in the hospital as a precaution until it they are deemed safe and free of contamination.
A 50m exclusion zone was organized in short notice around the boat while fire fighters donning HAZMAT suits tested the air and attended to the leak.
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Previously, the storage, handling and use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace were regulated separately in each jurisdiction under a different framework for hazardous substances and for dangerous goods. Now with the implementation of the new work health and safety (WHS) harmonised scheme, the WHS regulations cover hazardous substances and dangerous goods under a single scheme. This single scheme, “hazardous chemicals” includes a new process in which hazards are classified. This classifying system is based on the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
What is a “hazardous chemical”?
It is easy to get confused as to what actually classifies as a “hazardous chemical” but basically, it includes any substance that, following employee exposure, can have a harmful effect on health. Side effects of exposure can include (but are not limited to); burns, skin/eye irritation and even fatal diseases such as cancer.
“But isn’t that the same thing as “Dangerous Goods”?
Dangerous Goods can include substances, mixtures or articles that are hazardous to people, property or the environment. These types of substances can come in chemical or physicochemical form. It is the properties of these substances that typically cause harm. Some “Dangerous Goods” are explosives, flammable liquids/gases, corrosive substances, and chemically reactive or highly toxic substances. Other examples of dangerous goods include petrol, LP gas, chlorine, explosives and fireworks.
The characteristics used to determine if a substance is a ‘Dangerous Good’ falls under the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods (ADG Code) 7th Edition. This code presents a list of substances considered to be ‘Dangerous Goods’.
However, to answer the initial question: In many cases, dangerous goods are also considered to be hazardous substances.
One can speculate that the system was harmonised in order to avoid confusion on whether or not a substance was a hazardous chemical or dangerous good. However, now they both simply fall under the same scheme.
Whose Job is it to classify materials as ‘Hazardous’?
The model WHS Regulations (harmonised law) made it the manufacturer and importer’s responsibility to correctly classify the hazardous chemical prior the chemicals delivery to a workplace.
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According to a 2009 International Labour Conference report, over 650,000 deaths worldwide were caused in 2003 due to hazardous chemicals.
Dangerous Goods Transportation by sea falls under the IMDG Code. Since 2010 every marine worker who transports Dangerous Goods has been required to receive the proper training under AMSA regulations.
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A number of Queensland residents have been complaining of symptoms related to gas exposure, according to the Australian Medical Association. The exposure is likely due to the exploration of 5 coal seam gas wells inside a Brisbane residential estate.
“A number of people live near where CSG exploration is occurring and they are reporting symptoms that are consistent to gas exposure,” says Dr Christian Rowan.As of now, there is not enough evidence to comment on complaints of rashes, bleeding noses, headaches and vomiting by the residents of the Tara Residential estate, which is in close proximity to the CSG exploration. However, eye and throat irritation, nausea and vomiting, severe headache and dizziness, and even blurred vision and heart palpitations are all symptoms related to gas poisoning. In June, government officials were sent to the Brisbane estate to investigate complaints of gassy odours and health concerns.
Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said that people continue to call in, complaining of illness. “They’re ringing in saying their whole family is sick”
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association says it has only been made aware of one family complaining of illness in the Tara Estate, Debbie Orr.
An APPEA spokesperson said that Ms. Orr has refused medical evaluation offers. Furthermore, he says that gas and air samples taken last year revealed insignificant levels of volatile organic compounds or heavy metals at gas fields across Queensland, including Tara. Ms. Orr has called for an independent health study, encouraging people to speak up about their health issues.
“There’s just too many of us with the same symptoms.”
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A 24-year old fridge mechanic was killed when his van blew up in his driveway. Less than a week later, a similar incident caused the death of a tradesman. These deaths have launched inspections of air-conditioning and plumbing businesses by NT WorkSafe.
According to Executive director Lauren Hull, inspectors have been compelled to issue prohibition notices to some businesses.
Hull stated that workers continue to carry oxyacetylene even though it could potentially cause a fatal accident. She said that more than half of the businesses visited have ignored WorkSafe’s many pleas.
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The parents of a young trade worker have demanded answers from Victoria’s workplace safety watchdog regarding their son’s death from an exploded vehicle. They believe the organisation failed to protect their son.
The refrigerator mechanic Joey Cosento, was in his van when it exploded because of a build-up of gas that ignited on the street.The parents have not been able to return to their home where the incident occurred and have opted to rent a house nearby.
Since the incident, windows are still boarded up and damage is still apparent in the area. The tradesman’s parents have described the scene as “the most horrific thing” they had ever seen.
A similar incident occurred in 2009 when gas bottles caused a van to explode. It is alleged that one of the gas bottles in Joey’s van was leaking. His parents claim that if WorkSafe had done more to tighten regulations on the storage of gas bottles, that their son may not have died. Mr.Corsentino believes that WorkSafe should have patrolled more efficiently, and did their job in ensuring their son’s safety.
WorkSafe spokesman Michael Birt stated that there are indeed industry education programs dealing with the safe storage of gas bottles. Birt added that it was the employer’s responsibility to enforce safety regulations. WorkSafe has launched an investigation despite the fact that the Consentinos have yet to discuss with WorkSafe regarding their concerns.
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A Northern Territory safety authority says it is satisfied a dangerous mineral spill has been cleaned up. The Dangerous Goods incident occurred when an Adelaide to Darwin train derailed causing the spill.
Approximately, 1,200 tonnes of copper concentrate trickled into the Edith River when a freight train encountered a flooded rail. After the spill, NT Worksafe instructed Oz Minerals to clean up the spill before the end of January.
Reports have indicated that most of the spill has been effectively eliminated from the site surrounding the rail crossing. Oz Minerals was granted a pass from dangerous goods transport laws to carry the mineral in containers covered by tarpaulins.
The company stated that the use of sealed containers will be implemented to carry copper concentrate to Darwin by the end of next month.
The damaged rail is likely to be in working order by the middle of February.Currently, the Territory Environment Protection Authority has claimed that it is investigating another toxic hazard in the Edith River.
The flash flooding that caused the derailment also caused the uncontrolled release of waste water from a retention pond at the mine site.The EPA claims to be actively monitoring the briefs on water quality in Edith River and further downstream because of the spill and derailment.
The EPA stated that they have questions regarding both incidents, primarily regarding any potential environmental issues. After more testing has been conducted a decision will be made on whether a formal inquiry will be held.
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ACT work safety authorities will be conducting an investigation into the exposure of the two electricians to toxic chemicals in a Civic office building. Unions have stated that they are extremely concerned with the incident and are fearful that other older buildings may be contaminated.
Both workers were hospitalised after being sprayed with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBS, a toxic chemical that can cause skin rashes in the best of circumstances, and damage to the liver and nervous system, in the most extreme cases.
The workers were exposed to the fluid whyen a light fixture they were replacing exploded in the computer room. Both electricians were taken to Canberra Hospital to undergo monitoring.
The Electrical Trade Union stated that PCBs had not been used in light fittings for decades. Thus, the union is deeply concerned by the incident. The Unions NSW-ACT assistant secretary Nevile Betts demanded that the owner of the building search the light fittings throughout the rest of the 11-storey building.
The liquid should have been removed during campaigns to remove PCBS from buildings in the 1980s and 1990s, according to Betts. Betts has also pledged that they will be contacted the owners of the building to launch a thorough audit of the lights and equipment of the building. If any PCBs or any Hazardous Materials and Substances, are found they will be removed using the proper procedures.
Approximately 60 workers were evacuated from the eight floor, and were prohibited from returning the next day.
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A mining company has received orders to clean up the site of a derailed train in the Northern Territory. Approximately 1,200 tonnes of toxic mineral ore copper concentrate has washed up from the train and into a river during a flash flood.
WorkSafe has declared that the material is a health and environment concern. Oz Minerals has been granted until the end of the month to transport any remaining material to the South Australian border. Oz Minerals was granted special permission to transport the ore in tarpaulin covered wagons, despite the practice being currently prohibited.
WorkSafe has allegedly relaxed the rules in order to ensure that the copper concentrate is quickly taken to the border. Concerns have arisen regarding the potential of wet season rain and storms washing the left over ore into the river.
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CFA’s Fiskville training college has recently been inspected by WorkSafe following a Herald Sun investigation that links 15 deaths to the site.The inspection by WorkSafe comes after CFA initiated its own investigation into Dangerous Goods usage at the site in the 1970s and 1980s.Former Environmental Protection Authority ( EPA) deputy chairman will now serve as chair in the CFA case regarding chemical usage at Fiskville.
CFA has pledged their cooperation with WorkSafe investigations.Families who would like to report of any health problems concerning the training college, can do so by accessing the email account that was set up for that purpose.
Heads of CFA have indicated their dedication to resolving the allegations and reassuring workers that the site is now safe.
Many who have worked at Fiskville are reportedly concerned, according to an opinion piece written by CFA executive Mick Bourke. Bourke attributes the use of the toxic chemicals to a “ different time” when “attitudes, understanding and work practices were different”.
He stated that since then the work practices of the CFA have changed dramatically and positively.A former CFA volunteer by the name of Rick Jakob, has developed a cancerous tumour on his spine . He claims that volunteers regularly set fire to gasoline on creek beds during his time at Fiskville.
Jakob has expressed concerns that until the late 1990s water could have been contaminated as there was no treatment, and thus, it could have entered waterways.
A State spokesperson has stated that regular briefings are being received regarding the CFA investigation
Orica chief executive, Graeme Liebelt believes that the recent leak of the carcinogenic chemical,hexavalent chromium, into a suburban town should be considered “not serious”. Libelt made this claim at the same enquiry in which the company admitted to having lost control of the ammonia plant.
Variations from operating procedure merged with other factors to ”overwhelm” a containment system were initiated to capture overflow during a procedure to restock supplies of hexavalent chromium, the inquiry revealed.
A nightshift worker immediately realised there must’ve been a chromium leak when he saw yellow spots on the plant. He believed the problem had been immediately resolved until he was warned of yellow liquid seeping through the pin-holes. This discovery prompted a decision for emergency shut down.
Ark Griffin, a local and editor of the Stockton Messenger, advised the committee that he had discovered skin lesions and other symptoms of chromium VI poisoning following a walkthrough of an area well out of of Orica’s official clean up zones.
Various prominent individuals are calling for the plant to be permanently shut down.Orica still maintains their statement, that the leak is “not serious”. The inquiry continues
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