Cape Town – The provincial standing committee on local government has summoned the management of the Astron Energy refinery in Milnerton as well as the province’s disaster risk centre to explain “the root causes of recent incidents” at the site.
In the last three months there have been two serious incidents, including a still unexplained fatal one in July where two employees died and seven were injured. In last month’s incident, nobody was harmed after a product spill on a section of the transfer pipeline between the Milnerton Refinery and the residential Acacia Park area.
Questioned about a pledge he made to investigate the matter after the first incident, committee chairperson Derrick America said: “I look forward to receiving briefings from Astron as well as disaster risk management in October.”
“This will assist us in understanding the root causes and ventilate options for future preventative measures, providing peace of mind to residents,” said America.
“We note the recovery of employees previously injured, and welcome the Disaster Risk Management’s swift responses to assist.”
America said a date was yet to be finalised for the session.
The EFF’s provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego, who is also on the committee, urged Astron to “act responsibly and bring an urgent solution to this life-threatening problem.”
“The incidents not only put the oil business at risk, but were also a health hazard that posed serious threat to the lives of the residents, businesses around and as well as motorists,” said Xego.
Meanwhile, Astron’s corporate affairs manager Jill Koopman said an investigation into the incident was ongoing.
“Astron Energy worked with the relevant City of Cape Town authorities and Eskom to successfully contain a product spill that occurred on a section of the transfer pipeline between the Milnerton Refinery and Eskom Acacia Park, on Tuesday, September 22,” said Koopman.
“The leak has been brought under control and clean-up operations are progressing well.”
“There is no health and safety impact on the surrounding community as a result of this incident.”
Regarding the July 2, incident Astron’s media spokesperson Suzanne Pullinger, said at the time: “We are committed to a full investigation of the incident, in co-operation with all the relevant authorities, to learn the cause and to take steps to prevent any re-occurrence.”
“All seven injured in the incident are out of hospital and recuperating well, three of them already back at work,” said Pullinger.
“The investigation team continues to make good progress and looks to complete its remaining activities in the coming weeks. Various projects have been initiated to plan for the safe restart of the refinery but it is too early to determine when that will be.”