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Geelong Advertiser (Australia): Shell shocked by pier critics

Geelong Advertiser (Australia): Shell shocked by pier critics

“SHELL’S Geelong refinery has described recent criticism of its environmental record as “scaremongering”.

Saturday 17 Sept 2005

Geoff Ellison

Saturday, September 17

Peter Begg

SHELL’S Geelong refinery has described recent criticism of its environmental record as “scaremongering”.

Shell found itself caught in the crossfire in the past month as the state planning tribunal heard arguments for and against the storage of butadiene at terminals, next to the Refinery Pier.

Documents tabled at the tribunal accused Shell of dropping the ball, with claims questioning levels of benzene in the area, and more recently the danger of ships hitting the Refinery Pier.

Shell has taken out a half-page advertisement in today’s Geelong Advertiser to put its case.

Shell Geelong Refinery Manager Geoff Ellison said the advertisement was placed to highlight that the company cared about Geelong as much as anyone else who called it home.

“Shell has been a part of this community for 51 years, and in that time there have been lots of changes in terms of what the community expects of industry and how we do our work,” Mr Ellison said yesterday.

“As the advertisement outlines, we’re on track to meet these expectations by investing tens of millions of dollars in environmental improvements.

“The changes won’t, and can’t happen overnight, but in contrast to inaccurate comments reported recently, they are certainly well under way.

“It’s been disappointing to read the rubbish some members of the community keep repeating about us, especially about benzene emissions.

“They don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s scaremongering and monitoring shows that our operations are not impacting on our community.”

A spokeswoman for Shell said earlier yesterday that the company was committed to improving its record.

The company said earlier that the ultimate aim, and the focus of the refinery’s water master plan, was to eliminate the potential for oil discharge to the bay by making significant changes to cooling and process water systems.

Barwon Water, in conjunction with Shell, recently announced plans for a water treatment plant near the refinery, where recycled water could be used for cooling at the plant.

Mr Ellison said yesterday that Shell’s three-year aim was to be one of the top-performing industries in the environmental sense in Victoria and Australia.

“We are working on air emission projects that reduce particulate and fuel vapour emissions significantly,” he said.

“While we’re working on designing, building and commissioning these projects, we’re working hard to reduce the potential for incidents.

“The dramatic reduction in incidents during the past two years is proof of our commitment to this.

“Our EPA licence is unique to this refinery – it’s one of the strictest in Australia and effectively defines an oil spill as one drop of oil covering more than 30 square centimetres.”

The company said licence breaches had reduced from 282 in 2003, to 112 in 2004 and “we’re trending toward a 50 per cent reduction in 2005.”

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