Australia: Gorgon Project Safety Under Fire After Near Sinking Off Barrow Island


Unions are up in arms after yet another safety incident on the $43billion dollar Gorgon project, which could well have ended in tragedy.

On Sunday, February 6, the multi-cat vessel Boskalis BKM 102 was working on the Gorgon Project off Barrow Island at 9.30pm when it ran over the dredge anchor, ripping open its hold and oil tank.

“We had four crew on the vessel with the Dutch captain and it was sinking fast,” said Chris Cain, MUA WA branch secretary. “The ship had a gaping big hole five metres wide, with water and oil flooding in, when it made a run for the beach.”

Mr Cain said the crew made it to shore, but the safety dispute arose when the captain wanted them to stay on board for the tow to Dampier.

“It was not safe, the vessel was in no condition to sail,” he said. “The crew worked 22 hours straight trying to pump the water and oil out of vessel, but no divers were employed to assess the damage before it left.”

“This is yet another example of a multi-billion dollar project employing cowboys on the cheap and putting lives and the environment at risk,” said International Transport Workers Federation President and MUA Secretary Paddy Crumlin. “It’s a joke and it’s the second time in the past few months Boskalis has been the culprit of a shoddy operation.”

Boskalis was also subject to safety concerns when an inspection of their cranes and rigging equipment by the Gorgon Project manager Kellogg Joint Venture (KJV) identified significant safety concerns in December.

“The BKM 102 is the same vessel Boskalis has been trying to get us to live on board in putrid conditions during the cyclone season,” Chris Cain said. “We couldn’t have people on a flooded vessel in that condition,but they put two skippers on board and let her go.

“That’s a 150-kilometre trip to Dampier with cyclones around,” he said. “One Dutch skipper and one Aussie skipper stayed on board for the tow,with it leaking oil and rubbish everywhere on a pristine nature reserve. So much for safety.”

The BKM 102 is now on a slipway in Karratha undergoing repairs.


Source: Maritime Union of Australia, February 10, 2011;

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