Affirmations

During this Inquiry, the State and GDF Suez have expressed a commitment to undertake numerous actions in response to the Hazelwood mine fire. The State’s commitments are included in its written submissions to the Inquiry. GDF Suez’s commitments are included in its written submission to the Inquiry.

Some of the actions that the State or GDF Suez have committed to undertake directly address the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference and the Board has responded to them in the text of the report. Where the State and GDF Suez have accepted responsibility for undertaking action that directly addresses the Terms of Reference, the Board has not duplicated this commitment with a recommendation. Where the Board considers that an undertaking does not go far enough, it has also made a recommendation.

Some actions that the State or GDF Suez have committed to undertake go beyond the Terms of Reference of this Inquiry, but they remain relevant to the Inquiry and mitigate against an event similar to the recent Hazelwood mine fire happening again. The Board notes that some of these actions are already being implemented.

The Board affirms the commitments listed below. Where there is an inconsistency, the Board’s recommendation prevails.

The Board attaches similar weight to the commitments that are the subject of its affirmations as to its recommendations. As stated in recommendation 1, progress on the commitments the Board has affirmed should be monitored and accounted for on the same basis as the Board’s recommendations.

The Board affirms the following actions that the State of Victoria intends to take:

  • The State develop a Strategic Action Plan to improve and strengthen Victoria’s emergencymanagement capability.
  • The State establish Emergency Management Victoria as the new overarching bodyfor emergency management in Victoria.
  • The State establish an Emergency Management Commissioner to ensure that control arrangements are in place, and coordinate the response roles of relevant agencies’ resources.
  • The State establish Inspector General Emergency Management as the assurance authorityfor Victoria’s emergency management arrangements.
  • The State establish a Volunteer Consultative Forum for the Government to consult with volunteers and ensure their views are heard.
  • The State implement actions set out in the White Paper on Emergency Management Reform to improve community awareness and education, and make information available during emergencies.
  • The State strengthen industry engagement with the community.
  • The State improve the State planning framework for emergencies.
  • The State improve Government engagement with the coal mine sector regarding emergency management plans.
  • The State improve integration of industry in the response to an emergency.
  • The State improve training for career and volunteer firefighters to include lessons highlightedby the Hazelwood mine fire.
  • The State improve OHS in emergency response to include lessons highlighted by the Hazelwood mine fire.
  • The State develop an integrated emergency resource planning framework for the Latrobe Valley.
  • The State review emergency management communications arrangements across Government commissioned by the State Crisis and Resilience Council, including consideration of:
    1. the roles and functions of emergency communications committees;
    2. enhancing specialist crisis communications capability within Government;
    3. the use of established local networks as a way to communicate during emergencies;
    4. additional emergency communications training for Government employees; and
    5. developing a coordinated approach to the use of social media by Governmentduring emergencies.
  • The State conduct a National Review of Warnings and Information.
  • The State review Environment Protection Authority (EPA) emergency protocols, incorporating lessons from the Hazelwood mine fire.
  • The State clarify future expectations of incident air monitoring and scenarios, and determine the appropriate inventory of equipment.
  • EPA to coordinate a meta-analysis, including smoke plume modelling, of air monitoring data and other relevant information collected during the Hazelwood mine fire to create a bodyof knowledge of the impacts of extended brown coal fire events.
  • The Department of Health and EPA to undertake further development on the carbon monoxide and PM2.5 protocols and an engagement and education program around environmental and health standards.
  • EPA review its communications response and implement a structured community engagement process with the Morwell and surrounding communities.
  • EPA will be monitoring PM2.5 at all its fixed automatic air quality monitoring locationsby the end of July 2014.
  • The State will have an automatic air quality monitoring station in the south of Morwellfor the next 12 months [to March 2015].
  • The State review the State Environment Protection Policy for Ambient Air Quality.
  • The State develop a State Smoke Plan covering the management of potential publichealth impacts from large scale, extended smoke events.
  • The State undertake projects to understand health impacts and predict the movementof smoke from planned burning and bushfires.
  • The State improve local engagement on health issues.
  • The State improve communication around psycho-social support to communities affectedby emergencies.
  • The State commission a long-term study into the long-term health effects of the smoke from the Hazelwood mine fire.
  • The State review the Personal Hardship Assistance Program and Implementation Guidelinesfor consistency and clarity of purpose.
  • The State implement new technology for recording emergency assistance payments.
  • Local Government Victoria coordinate emergency management officers across local councils.
  • The State improve relief and recovery information available to Culturally and LinguisticallyDiverse communities.
  • The State review relief and recovery communications and community engagement initiatives.
  • The State prepare Regional Growth Plans.
  • The State implement a risk-based approach for work plans.
  • The State implement the Victorian Critical Infrastructure Resilience Strategy.
  • The State enhance emergency risk mitigation planning.
  • The State review the Latrobe City Municipal Emergency Management Plan.
  • The State initiate a joint program for regulators, emergency service agencies and the Emergency Management Commissioner to assess the prevention and preparedness controls on sites across Victoria.
  • The State establish an appropriate mechanism to monitor implementation of the actions set out in its submission and the Government’s response to the Board of Inquiry’s recommendations.

The Board affirms the following actions that GDF Suez intends to take:

  • GDF Suez nominate a group of staff to be trained in the Phoenix Rapidfire modelling tool prior to the 2014/2015 fire season.
  • GDF Suez offer enhanced training prior to the 2014/2015 fire season and on an ongoing basis, to personnel who are intended to perform a role under the emergency command structure and relevant emergency service agencies.
  • GDF Suez establish an emergency command structure at the mine to deal with ExtremeFire Danger Days.
  • GDF Suez notify Country Fire Authority (CFA) of the identity and contact details of those personnel holding these roles.
  • On Extreme Fire Danger Days, GDF Suez ensure more personnel are rostered on and additional contractors are available for dedicated fire protection duties.
  • GDF Suez upgrade signage within the mine to make orientation easier for non-mine personnel.
  • GDF Suez negotiate with SP AusNet regarding a feasibility study to upgrade the MHO substation from temporary to permanent standard.
  • GDF Suez initiate a programme for reducing vegetation in the worked out areas of the northern batters to reduce fire risk commencing in the areas closest to Morwell.
  • GDF Suez maintain and continue to use the additional pipe system located in the northern batters which was installed during the 2014 fire and install additional pipework as identified.
  • GDF Suez conduct a review of the current pipework and condition in the areas of the mine other than the eastern section of the northern batters.
  • On Extreme Fire Danger Days GDF Suez instigate wetting down of non-operational areas.
  • GDF Suez nominate a representative to attend the meetings of the Municipal Fire PreventionCommittee convened by Latrobe City Council.
  • GDF Suez nominate designated people to be in attendance at the CFA Incident Control Centre during an emergency which threatens the mine.
  • GDF Suez review its own communications protocol to ensure that during the response to a fire which is capable of impacting on the community, it is able to communicate messages to the community via any protocol adopted following the review by all agencies.
  • GDF Suez work with Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) to review its Safety Assessment and Safety Management System in light of rr. 5.3.21 and 5.3.23 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (Vic).
  • GDF Suez develop a Carbon Monoxide management protocol for firefighter and mine employee safety prior to the 2014/2015 fire season, in consultation with VWA and CFA.
  • GDF Suez undertake the rehabilitation set out in Exhibit 88 – Statement of James Faithful,annexure 5 and discuss the appropriate timing of each sequence of rehabilitation with the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation.