Woodside in fears of sabotage

Woodside Energy has called in police over fears of industrial sabotage at the Karratha gas plant – Australia’s most important piece of infrastructure.

The discovery of suspected asbestos fibres in about six gaskets on July 1 triggered a search of the area and six more were uncovered.

On July 9 tests came back confirming the presence of white, or chrysotile, asbestos. A sweep of the storage and landing area and pipe rack where the gaskets were found uncovered no further contamination.

It is understood that more asbestos was subsequently discovered in areas that had been cleared by the sweep, prompting concerns that the material had been planted in the lead-up to next week’s maintenance shutdown, which will see more than 1000 workers on site.

“Experienced Woodside investigators have conducted an internal investigation and have engaged WA Police,” Woodside said in a statement. “We are therefore unable to provide any further comment. The safety of our workforce remains our highest priority.” Local detectives have looked into the issue but it is understood officers have so far found no evidence of a criminal act. “Police are aware, however at this stage it is not a police matter,” a spokeswoman said.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union assistant State secretary Glenn McLaren said the union had advised all staff at the plant to contact the National Asbestos Exposure Register to ensure a record of possible exposure was made.

Mr McLaren said the union requested Woodside’s asbestos management plan and register soon after last week’s discovery.

The documents were handed over Thursday but were heavily redacted.

Mr McLaren said Woodside industrial relations executive Rob Croft phoned him on Thursday night to tell him the company suspected criminality but had not suggested the union was involved. He asked the union for members to report suspicious behaviour.

“The idea that someone would put some asbestos on their own body to get it on to site is just ridiculous,” Mr McLaren said.

“You wouldn’t need to ask twice to tell someone to report that.” A Woodside spokeswoman said precautionary action was immediately taken after the asbestos was discovered last week.

Original story appeared in Weekend West, Perth.

Posted in News

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