Reader letter: Meeting needed for QAL to explain

Letter to the editor from John Feddersen, of Gladstone:

Queensland Alumina Limited's recent caustic blowout over South Gladstone has brought about questions that the current management is as ineffective as past management in controlling such blowouts.

The lack of trust by the community in management is reflected in the recent McNair Ingenuity Research community perception survey.

Lack of appropriate maintenance and better maintenance procedures in the near-50-year-old plant is most likely the cause of the blowout.

QAL has a lot of explaining to do and a community meeting would be a suitable forum here.

A proactive approach is called for rather than a reactive approach of compensating affected residents after the event.

It is one thing to spray caustic over the cars of long-suffering employees at the Yarwun plant, but totally different when the alumina plant is located so close to the centre of the city where there is greater potential for damage.

Any fines imposed upon QAL by license regulatory authorities are minor in relation to the revenue QAL obtains from the sale of its product, and such minor fines offer little motivation for QAL management to do a better job.

For example, a fine of $125,000 was imposed on the December 19, 2013.

The current situation is a long way from "world's best practice".

An analogy to the world of triathlon sports is that QAL never seems to get over the finish line and produce the best possible result.

Gladstone residents can hope that current QAL management does not run out of "puff" this time and finishes the task at hand.

Or maybe the task is just too difficult for them and the task of fixing the problems will be left to the next management team.