Asbestos Alert On Barrow Island

The union has alerted Worksafe that workers have been exposed to asbestos on Barrow Island and the port of Dampier

The WA Branch has reported unsafe shipments of asbestos to WorkSafe and alerted other unions on the island after tests confirmed asbestos was being shipped and stevedored without safety precautions.  Both ships crew and waterside workers have been exposed to the deadly dust.

Noel Nielsen reports


DEC 09 - JAN 10

  • October 09. Shipment of drums containing asbestos  commenced from Barrow to Dampier using vessels Bhagwan Mover, Malu Explorer and Kararwa
  • Crew of Malu Explorer were told that palletised 200ltr drums containing ACM would be loaded for return to the mainland. Crew not provided with training, PPE or instructions. Crew refused to load because drums were not securely banded, pallets were in poor condition and several drum lids and clamps were not secure.. Once rectified shipments re commenced.
  • October 09 , Mermaids RORO employee not advised  of contents of drums and required to handle pallets. No warning labels on outside of drums. Instructed to place drums/pallets on non Dangerous Goods trailers ready for transport away.
  • Malu Explorer crew told Mermaids RORO employees that they were told the  drums contained asbestos
  • Oct - Nov 09 Mermaids Employees observed debris and dirt on top of the drums and pallets  and questioned management what the debris was because it appeared to be ACM. No satisfactory response.  Irregular shipments continued
  • 8th & 9Th  Dec 09. Mermaids employees instructed to move drums from non Dangerous Goods trailers to Dangerous Goods trailers and traliers moved to area C for transport off site.
  • 10 Dec  09. Mermaid employee observed pieces of debris on pallets that appeared to be ACM.  Provided  sample to KJV Safety Manager Harry Callahan and requested he find out if it contained asbestos.
  • 11 Dec 09. Mermaids management provided toolbox meeting to employees advising of the hazards associated with handling asbestos and instructed employees that they had to handle the drums because they were acting for their client
  • 11 Dec 09 - Jan 2010. Mermaid employee constantly asked KJV Safety Manager, Harry Callahan  when the results of the sample would come back. No satisfactory answer
  •  23 Dec 09. Laboratory carried out test on material supplied by Mermaids employee to KJV
  •  06 Jan 2010. Mermaids employee advised at pre start meeting that the sample was positive in containing Asbestos.
  • Mermaids employees advised that shipments would cease and the matter be investigated

The essence of all of this is that Chevron, KJV, OMSA and Mermaids all knew they were dealing with ACM and they chose not to tell those at most risk.

It is apparent that many of the requirements of  the  CODE OF PRACTICE FOR THE SAFE REMOVAL OF ASBESTOS 2 [NOHSC:2002(2005)]  have not been observed by the company engaged to load the ACM into the drums and that Chevron/KJV did not have procedures in place to ensure the Code was complied with.


As such it is probable that the vessels have been contaminated, the crews exposed and all persons onshore who were working with or in the vicinity of the pallets have been experienced some level of exposure.