Longford Gas Plant Royal Commission


Maurice Blackburn jointly represented the four unions that comprise the workforce at the Longford plant in the Royal Commission which followed the tragic explosion and fire in September 1998. Two workers were killed, many were injured and the state of Victoria lost its gas supply for 2 weeks.

Working closely with the employees caught in the fire and explosion, and instructing at the Royal Commission daily, Maurice Blackburn developed an intimate knowledge of the operations of the rich oil, lean oil gas absorption system operating at the Plant.

In the course of the Royal Commission Esso tried to blame some of its employees for the disaster. Maurice Blackburn was able to defeat this cruel attempt.

The Royal Commission concluded that employees were not properly trained, and supervisors and higher management did not have the necessary knowledge to deal with the dangers caused by a pump shutdown. It was found that the ultimate cause of the accident was the failure of Esso to equip its employees with appropriate knowledge to deal with the events that occurred.

Esso was later found guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court of various breaches of Occupational Health and Safety Law and was fined a record amount.

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