Union warns on demolition

Morwell power station and briquette factory.
Morwell power station and briquette factory.

A Latrobe Valley union official has raised concerns about the likely demolition of Morwell Power Station in the wake of the failed demolition of Alcoa's Anglesea power plant using controlled explosives.

CFMEU Victorian District Mining and Energy Division organiser Duncan MacGregor expressed safety fears for nearby residents and workers if the demolition of Morwell Power Station was to go ahead.

"We're here [CFMEU offices] 150 metres from the power station. There are other businesses closer and I'd estimate there are up to 200 people working in the nearby vicinity," he said.

"I'm not against the demolition ... but given the debacle at Anglesea which went awry and the fact that [the demolition of Morwell Power Station] is a precursor to Hazelwood, which is bigger again ... it is imperative that the demolition is done right."

Mr MacGregor also questioned whether local workers would be contracted for the demolition works.

"We saw with Agrekko and the generators they brought people in from overseas," he said.

"We have qualified people here so it gives us reasonable relevance to see they do the right thing here.

"We've lost too many jobs in the Valley. You take any capacity to earn a wage out of an area like with Hazelwood station and mine and it impacts the local economy."

Morwell Power Station site liquidator Energy Brix Australia Corporation remediation general manager Barry Dungey said EBAC would hold a community presentation about planned demolition methodologies when contractors had been selected.

"It is too early to comment around the specifics [of the demolition]," he said.

"We'll be using best practice that has been derived from visiting a large number of demolition projects across Australia."

Mr Dungey said he could not guarantee local workers would be involved in the demolition.

"The reality is that because of the size of this demolition activity, no local single contractor can take on a job of this size," he said.

"There will be one contract with a major contractor for this project. How they sub-contract, how they work out how much they do themselves and how much they do with various other entities, is really their choice.

"All we have specified is we want the safest and most efficient processes undertaken. Where reasonable, we will try to encourage the use of locals but we have to be conscious that it is a very highly skilled activity."

A WorkSafe spokeswoman said any organisation carrying out demolition work must comply with relevant safety laws, regulations and codes.

"WorkSafe has been engaging with the asset owner about planned demolition activity and asbestos removal at this site," she said.