Cover-up over oil blaze

Issue 

Cover-up over oil blaze

By Liam Mitchell

ADELAIDE — In an apparent cover-up following a fire at the Mobil Port Stanvac oil refinery, management is claiming there are no possible health effects of the blaze and no cause for concern over safety standards.

After the blaze, it was revealed the company had planned to expand the plant and there were proposals to reduce the non-residential buffer zone around it from two km to 350 metres.

The fire began on April 10, when oil got into the flare stack, where excess gas is burnt off. The cause of the leak is as yet unknown. The burning oil sent a series of fireballs into the sky and produced a huge smoke cloud. The smoke from the outer suburban refinery was visible in Elizabeth, some 50 km away.

Mobil is now planning a public relations campaign in the area around the refinery, but many residents want the plant moved away from residential areas. There has been concern for some time about sulphur emissions and other odours.

The fire forced the evacuation of some residents and up to 200 refinery workers, but police didn't issue an evacuation order, and Mobil didn't request one. Noarlunga City Council officials said there had been no previous problems with the refinery and they saw no cause for concern.