We’ve just heard that Worksafe, the workplace safety authority, are prosecuting the Hazelwood Power Corporation over the dangerous pollution experienced by the local community during the Hazelwood Mine Fire.
The recent Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry found it was likely that the fire caused an increase in deaths in the Latrobe Valley.
The fire also posed serious health risks to employees, such as those who fought the fire, and worked at the mine site. But this prosecution goes beyond that, calling the company to account for the pollution hazards experienced by the general Latrobe Valley community.
Worksafe has announced that the company will be prosecuted for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The Act requires that an employer provide a safe working environment for employees.
But many people may not realise that the Act also stipulates an employer must ensure that the public are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.
Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Felicity Millner wrote to WorkSafe last year, on behalf of local community group Voices of the Valley. “The letter requested that they prosecute the operators of Hazelwood mine for breaches of Sections 21 and 23.”
“We were concerned that it had been almost two years since the fire, and no action had been taken against the mine operator.”
“We are very pleased, and relieved, that WorkSafe has responded to our request to take this important action on behalf of the community.”