Hazelwood’s French operator to stand trial over 2014 fire in open cut coalmine


Hazelwood’s French operator to stand trial over 2014 fire in open cut coalmine

 
29 June 2017

published bywww.smh.com.au


Australia – The operator of the Hazelwood coal mine in the Latrobe Valley will face a trial over the 2014 fire at the site.

The Victorian workplace safety regulator, WorkSafe, charged the Hazelwood Power Corporation with 10 alleged breaches of occupational health and safety laws last year.

This week, after legal proceedings in the Latrobe Valley, the company was committed to stand trial over the fire, which covered the nearby town of Morwell, home to about 14,000 people, with smoke and ash.

Hazelwood indicated to the court that it would plead not guilty to the charges.

French energy giant Engie is the parent company of the Hazelwood Power Corporation.

The charges related to Hazelwood’s preparedness for the fire, which broke out under extreme bushfire conditions in February 2014.
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WorkSafe has alleged that Hazelwood failed to maintain a workplace under its management and control that was safe and without risks to health, and that it failed to ensure that other people were not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the conduct of its operations.

The fire burnt for 45 days before it was declared safe by fire authorities.

During the fire, people in Morwell complained about health concerns including headaches, nausea and sore eyes which they blamed on the fire.

The fire led to two boards of inquiry. One inquiry heard that the cost to firefighting authorities of fighting the 45-day blaze in the open cut coalmine was $32.5 million.

In a statement released on Thursday, Engie said it “intends to vigorously defend the charges laid by WorkSafe in connection with the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire”.

Engie also said it was disappointed that the workplace safety regulator was “proceeding with charges, more than three years after the mine fire incident. The Hazelwood mine fire was an unprecedented event, initiated by embers from external bushfires, which gave rise to several individual fires throughout the mine, in challenging conditions. The mine fire has already been the subject of two separate boards of inquiry.

“In the period since the mine fire, Engie has effectively implemented a wide range of recommendations and affirmations from the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry reports, and this is recognised in an annual report tabled in the Victorian Parliament.”

The matter has been listed for a Directions Hearing in the County Court in Melbourne on July 11.

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Read more at:https://phys.org/news/2017-06-peatlands-dwindling-losses.html#jCpTropical peat swamp forests, which once occupied large swaths of Southeast Asia and other areas, provided a significant “sink” that helped remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But such forests have been disappearing fast due to clear-cutting and drainage projects making way for plantations. Now, research shows peatlands face another threat, as climate change alters rainfall patterns, potentially destroying even forested peatlands that remain undrained.

Read more at:https://phys.org/news/2017-06-peatlands-dwindling-losses.html#jCp


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