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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 10 Hansard (20 September) . . Page.. 4045..


MS BRESNAN: Minister, was there any delay in the issuing of the alert to inner north suburbs because there was a lack of information about the chemicals on the site, and would a fully prepared emergency response plan have allowed ESA to issue alerts to close windows and stay inside earlier than was done on the morning of 16 September?

MR CORBELL: A full action debrief will be undertaken by the emergency services in relation to their response to the incident and all of these issues will be considered as part of that process. I would, however, make the observation that I do not believe that the advice provided by the emergency services was in any way delayed due to a lack of information. The fire brigade always take a precautionary approach and, as soon as they ascertain that they believe there is any possible risk to the broader community, they take appropriate steps. That is what occurred in this instance. The initial emergency alert that was issued was issued at the direction of the incident controller at the scene based on the information available to him and based on his assessment of what was occurring at the scene. I have received no advice to suggest that there was any delay in the issuing of that alert and information to the community.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary.

MS LE COUTEUR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, can you provide the Assembly with a list of people that the ESA consulted in regard to the management of the fire on the morning of 16 September?

MR CORBELL: I am happy to provide those details to the Assembly. What the ACT Fire Brigade did was to contact their colleagues in the New South Wales Fire Brigade, who do have significant additional expertise in the area of chemical fire and large-scale industrial chemical fires. This is for obvious reasons. Obviously, the ACT has a limited number of these facilities compared to large jurisdictions such as New South Wales and Victoria, given the large number of industrial complexes in those jurisdictions. As is always the case, the ACT Fire Brigade drew on the advice available to them from their colleagues interstate, and that assisted them in making further assessments about the management of the fire as the morning of Friday moved on.

The Fire Brigade was also able to obtain further additional advice from a hazmat expert who was currently present in the ACT at the time that the fire took place. Their advice was also drawn upon. But I do not want this in any way to suggest that the Fire Brigade do not have the training or the knowledge or the skill sets needed to deal with this type of fire. They do. But given the relative lack of frequency with which these types of incidents occur in the ACT, it is sensible and logical for them to draw on advice from jurisdictions that have to deal with these incidents on a more frequent basis. I think that was an entirely responsible course of action for them to take.

Visitors

MR SPEAKER: I draw members' attention to the fact that in the gallery today we have a number of people joining us from the ACT government's work experience


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