Chem. Exposure Alert At Australian Defence Plant
Low Level Chemical Exposure At Defence Establishment Moorebank
A minor contamination involving the chemical beryllium was reported on 2 November 2007 at the Defence National Storage and Distribution Centre, at Moorebank in New South Wales. It is believed the contamination occurred as a result of packaging of damaged equipment items returning from the Middle East.
On becoming aware of the potential hazard, all personnel were evacuated from the scene and the contaminated area was secured. Assessment of the hazard was undertaken by the NSW Fire Department and a qualified civilian contractor, which indicated two low-level positive indicators for the presence of beryllium. In accordance with reporting protocols, Comcare was subsequently notified.
Following containment of the hazard, swab tests of the area were negative for beryllium and the work area was declared safe for resumption of work on 6 November 2007.
Occupational Health and Safety briefings have been provided to the small number of staff that may have been exposed and counselling is available on request.
Those personnel exposed to the site will undergo thorough on-site medical testing. Staff have also been advised to register their names on a beryllium exposure database to ensure that the details of their potential exposure are formally recorded.
An investigation is currently underway to determine the immediate and follow-on action required to prevent a re-occurrence.