Page 4044 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 20 September 2011

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We will look at arrangements about how we can put that into place. That will not create the extra positions we need overnight, but certainly these are a dedicated crew, absolutely committed to do the best they can for our children. Equally, if they raise matters with me that I can address, I will.

Mitchell—chemical fire

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, it is in regard to the fire at the ESI facility in Mitchell on Friday. In media interviews after the fire the ESA indicated that between 3 am and 7 am on Friday morning they were in contact with a number of hazmat experts and scientists to determine what the risks were associated with the substances that were burning at the site—to paraphrase, “ascertain what we were dealing with”. The ESA were able to obtain the manifest of what was in the factory; however, did not appear to be clear about the full implications of what would happen to the chemicals when they combusted.

Minister, can you explain what emergency response plans this facility had in place to manage a potential scenario such as the fire that occurred?

MR CORBELL: The emergency response plans for the facility are a matter for the management of the facility. I do not have the details of that but the details of the plans and safety arrangements that the management of the facility had in place, or the facility itself, will be the subject of a detailed investigation, first of all by the Fire Brigade and the police, in preparing their report for the coroner, also by WorkSafe ACT in relation to safe work practices and also by the EPA in relation to environmental authorisations and the fact that we now have a polluting event as a result of this fire.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary.

MS HUNTER: Minister, aside from retrieving the manifests from the site, why is it that the ESA were not fully aware of all the chemicals that might be present on the site and how they would react if combusted at a high temperature as soon as the fire was notified by fire authorities at 11.30 pm on Thursday?

MR CORBELL: The requirements for the operators of this facility are to ensure that, amongst other things, a manifest is present at the site that can be obtained by emergency services in the event of a fire or other emergency. The manifest was present on the site and, I am advised, was obtained by the first responding units of the ACT Fire Brigade when they arrived at the scene of the fire. The exact adequacy of that information and whether or not it allowed the Fire Brigade to fully determine what response was required at the scene of the fire is the subject of the Fire Brigade and police investigation, amongst others.

MS BRESNAN: A supplementary.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Bresnan.

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