Asbestos discovered at Woodside’s Karratha Gas Plant

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
The Woodside Petroleum-operated North West Shelf Venture's Karratha Gas Plant.
Camera IconThe Woodside Petroleum-operated North West Shelf Venture's Karratha Gas Plant. Credit: supplied

Woodside Petroleum is being called on to complete a site-wide audit of the Karratha gas plant after a contractor identified potential asbestos fibres in 10 gaskets on the site.

The potential contamination was discovered last week and subsequent testing by Woodside revealed chrysotile asbestos was detected in some but not all of the gasket samples.

A spokeswoman for the oil and gas giant said the gaskets were considered to be in a non-friable condition and that atmospheric testing did not detect any airborne asbestos fibres.

However, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union State secretary Glenn McLaren said there was no such thing as safe asbestos.

“There’s an untold amount of people that have been exposed to asbestos through these gaskets and I look at it as where there’s smoke there’s fire,” he said.

“We’re calling on Woodside to do a full audit of the entire site and make that public to allay the fear of the contract workforce.”

A Woodside spokeswoman said precautionary action was immediately taken after the asbestos was discovered.

“That included ceasing all work in the area and safely removing the gasket material,” she said.

However Woodside have given no indication as to whether or not they will perform an audit on the site.

The AMWU is concerned about the effect it will have on worker’s mental health if they have in the back of their mind that they might be working with asbestos.

“It’s 2019 and asbestos has been a banned product in this country for over 15 years,” Mr McLaren said.

“Woodside likes to pride itself on putting worker safety first, so I find it appalling it can still allow asbestos containing materials on their site.”

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