Lessons for the Seveso Directive from Longford Australia - issue 262

Issue Number: 262

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On Friday 25 September 1998 at about 12.26pm, a vessel in the Esso Longford Gas Plant fractured releasing hydrocarbon vapours and liquid. Explosions and a fire followed. Two Esso employees were killed and eight others were injured. Supplies of natural gas to domestic and industrial users were halted for between 9-19 days. The State of Victoria, which is highly dependant on natural gas, suffered substantial disruption to the economy. The Government ordered a Royal Commission to investigate the causes of the incident and it published its final report (Govt Victoria, 1999). DNV acted as technical advisor.
The main lessons to be drawn from Longford relevant to the Seveso Directive are, in the opinion of the authors, as follows:
* Safety Management System – incomplete implementation
* Knowledge Stewardship – insufficient on old plant
* Knowledge of Change – organisational change not subjected to this procedure
* Audit and Review – opportunities to discover gaps were missed.

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