Visy Tumut mill hazard audit cites risk of explosion

A hazard audit undertaken at the Visy paper mill in Tumut, New South Wales, in 2015 has now been published with nine recommendations made, three of which are high priority and cite a risk of explosion. The report recommends Visy address all hazardous area zones, including its Methanol Plant and turpentine storage area, and recommends Visy estimates the minimum emergency venting capacities of its tanks used for storage of flammable and combustible liquids. The report states, “This is an important safety consideration as the energy release from the failure of a pressurised tank containing a boiling flammable liquid is immense. Where tank failure occurs in these situations, the phenomenon is referred to as a boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion, and the destructive forces unleashed are incredible.”

Visy paper mill in Tumut, NSW

Visy paper mill in Tumut, NSW

In December, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) called on Visy to implement safe workplace practices at its Tumut mill after allegations of potentially fatal accidents and near misses were levelled against the company during 2015. The audit asks Visy to implement its proposed Hazardous Area Classification as soon as possible to address the risk, given this particular recommendation has been sought on previous audits since 2003. Despite this, auditor Colin Barker from Advitech has praised Visy’s overall maintenance of the mill, reporting, “The facility presented as being generally well maintained throughout. The attention to housekeeping observed on a facility of this scale, was generally commendable.” Visy has more than 120 sites across Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam, and is privately owned by the Pratt family.  

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