Western Australian transport company, BBBM Pty Ltd (trading as Growers Agrishop) was recently fined $14,000 following an incident in which sulphuric acid spilled on the Kwinana Freeway in 2017.
On 20 March 2017 a quantity of 60 per cent sulphuric acid being transported in an intermediate bulk container (IBC), on a truck was spilt on the Kwinana Freeway in southbound lanes between Mill Point Road and South Terrace.
The WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety was one of the agencies involved in investigating the incident.
Following an investigation by dangerous goods officers, BBBM Pty Ltd was charged with two offences under dangerous goods safety regulations and pleaded guilty to both charges.
The charges related to using an expired storage container for transporting the sulphuric acid and not ensuring the employee who loaded the acid was trained and competent in loading and restraining dangerous goods.
Dangerous Goods and Petroleum safety director, Ross Stidolph, said the charges did not specifically relate to the cause of the acid spill.
“The department’s investigation found the IBC used to transport the sulphuric acid was more than five years old and, therefore, not suitable for transporting dangerous goods,” Stidolph said.
“The actual cause of the failure of the IBC is unclear and so there is no allegation that the container was inherently defective. However, it should not have been used for transport.”
Stidolph said the company was also responsible for ensuring its employees were formally trained to load, restrain and transport dangerous goods.
“The business provided its employees with no formal training on load restraints, with truck drivers expected to know how to load and pack dangerous goods from their own experience,” he said.
“By failing to ensure the driver had received appropriate training, the company was unable to ensure they were able to perform the task of loading dangerous goods safely, and in accordance with the regulations.”
Stidolph said it was important to note the investigation did not allege the offences directly resulted in the spill that occurred last year.
“The incident is useful to set out the context of the offences and the potential harm that can result from transporting dangerous goods,” he said.
“All those involved in transporting dangerous goods need to be aware of the higher standards required to ensure that inherently dangerous substances are contained.”
Since the incident, the company has developed new procedures for transporting dangerous goods.
“The company has no prior convictions, fully cooperated with Dangerous Goods officers from the department and has proactively addressed the issues identified as part of our investigation,” Stidolph said.
In determining the penalty, the court took into account the company’s cooperation with investigators and early guilty plea.