Texas explosion highlights risk in Kwinana

The April 17 blast, of which the cause is yet to be established, killed 14 people and left more than 200 injured. The explosion gutted several nearby residences, including an aged care home.

Mr Oughton has been fighting against a plan put to the City of Rockingham by a developer to build a multi-storey residential complex he says is 300 metres inside the current industrial buffer zone. The City has applied to the WA Planning Commission to have the land rezoned to allow it.

Three Fridays ago, the KIC submitted a comment under the Metropolitan Region Scheme, urging the State Government to create a Special Control Area for the Kwinana Industrial Buffer Zone. The Kwinana Industrial Area has nine of WA’s 15 designated Major Hazard Facilities (MHF). The closest homes to an MHF are in North Rockingham, about 2km away.

Mr Oughton said that while there was a greater chance of a person winning the lottery than being impacted by a catastrophic event from inside the industrial area, there was no need to increase the level of risk by allowing sensitive uses inside the existing buffer.

‘Our objective is to make it crystal clear to all parties who want to submit a scheme amendment to change the buffer that this area is out of bounds,’ he said.

‘Some local governments have said ‘well, there’s no issues around noise and air quality any more so the boundary can be changed’.

‘Those issues have been long since mitigated by industry complying with new higher levels of regulation, but what they perhaps conveniently forget is in the industrial area there are Major Hazard Facilities that need large buffers.’

Mr Oughton said he did not believe the City of Rockingham’s planners had ‘considered the consequences of a catastrophic event, or if they have, they are not factoring future industrial development into their consideration’.

Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said the events in Waco, Texas, were ‘really tragic’, and said risk buffers had been identified to protect the community from potential industrial accidents.

‘If the City considered an industrial proposal could generate off-site risks then the applicant would be required to complete a quantitative risk assessment in accordance with the EPA risk criteria,’ he said.