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Efficiency Audits - Reports of Auditor-General - Department of Defence - Safety principles for explosives, 18 April 1988


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The Auditor-General

Efficiency Audit Report

Department of Defence: safety principles for explosives

Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra

© Commonwealth of Australia 1988 ISSN 0818-2876 ISBN 0 644 07721 2

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should be directed to the Manager, AGPS Press, Australian Government Publishing Service, G.P.O. Box 84, Canberra A.C.T. 2601. In 1984 the Auditor-General’s Office changed its name to the Australian Audit Office. Works by both bodies are found under the name used at the time of publication.

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA PARLIAMENTARY PAPER

No. 1 3 6 o f 1988

Ordered to be printed by authority ISSN 0727-4181

Printed in Australia by R. D. Ruble, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra

4 v A U S T R A L I A ,,^

Australian Audit Office Canberra, ACT 19 April 1988

Dear Mr President, Dear Madam Speaker, In accordance with the provisions of sub-section 48F (8) of the Audit Act 1901, I transmit to the Parliament a copy of my Report, signed on 18 April 1988, on an efficiency audit of the Department of Defence: safety principles for explosives.

Yours sincerely,

D. J. Hill

Acting Auditor-General

The Honourable the President of the Senate, The Honourable the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT

CONTENTS Page

Overview 1

1. In tro d u c tio n ........................................

1.1 Audit objectives and scope . . . 2. Background .......................................

2.1 Storage and processing policies . 2.2 Development of safety principles 2.3 Definitions ................................

3. The Safety Principles Instruction . . . 3.1 B ackground...............................

3.2 Ombudsman’s recommendations. 3.3 Implementation timetable . . . 3.4 Adequacy of the In stru ctio n ........................................................... 10

3.5 Compatability mixing ru le s............................................................... 14

4. The Waivers In s tru c tio n ........................................................................... 16

4.1 B ackground....................................................................................... 16

4.2 Adequacy of the In stru ctio n ........................................................... 17

5. Processing of W a iv e r s ............................................................................... 19

5.1 B ackground....................................................................................... 19

5.2 Public Risk W a i v e r s ....................................................................... 19

5.3 Departmental Risk W a iv e rs ........................................................... 21

5.4 Developments following completion of audit field work . . . . 21 6. Approval by Government ....................................................................... 25

7. Safeguarding............................................................................................... 27

7.1 B ackground....................................................................................... 27

7.2 Audit fin d in g s................................................................................... 27

8. Defence Science and Technology Organisation........................................ 30

8.1 B ackground....................................................................................... 30

8.2 Materials Research L a b o ra to rie s................................................... 30

8.3 Defence Research Centre, Salisbury............................................... 30

8.4 Internal quantity distances............................................................... 31

8.5 R ecom m endations........................................................................... 31

9. Office of Defence P ro d u c tio n ................................................................... 32

9.1 B ackground....................................................................................... 32

9.2 Audit fin d in g s................................................................................... 32

9.3 Operational Safety Committee (E x p lo s iv e s)................................ 33

10. Maribyrnong............................................................................................... 34

10.1 Background ................................................................................... 34

10.2 Audit findings ............................................................................... 34

11. RAN Sydney operations........................................................................... 36

11.1 Background ................................................................................... 36

11.2 Audit findings ............................................................................... 36

12. RAAF b ases............................................................................................... 46

12.1 Background ................................................................................... 46

12.2 Amberley ....................................................................................... 46

12.3 Butterworth ................................................................................... 47

12.4 E d in b u rg h ....................................................................................... 47

12.5 R ic h m o n d ....................................................................................... 48

12.6 W illiam tow n................................................................................... 49

12.7 Audit c o m m e n t............................................................................... 51

v

Page

13. Costs of implementing the Department’s safety principles for explosives................................................................................................... 52

14. Summary of Audit findings....................................................................... 54

15. Summary of recommendations and departmental responses................ 58

vi

OVERVIEW

The Department of Defence operates more than 1000 sites for the storage and handling of explosives at over 40 establishments in Australia and overseas. The Department has estimated the value of these facilities to be in the order of several hundred million dollars. Audit reviewed the administrative effectiveness of the

Department’s procedures and practices relating to its operations involving the storage and handling of explosives.

The Department adopted the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Safety Principles for explosives in 1981 and planned that they would be operational throughout the Department by December 1983. Before 1981 the Department followed safety principles developed by the UK in the 1920s for storing and

handling explosives. The new safety principles adopted by the Department provide for the classification of explosives according to the potential hazard (e.g. mass detonating explosives, projectiles, pyrotechnics, etc). The principles also cover the compatability of different types of explosives for storage or transport together and

such matters as storage quantities and the distances between storehouses, other facilities, people and property boundaries.

Audit found that the Department did not meet its December 1983 target date for the implementation of its new safety principles. With hindsight, it would appear that the timetable set by the Department was overly optimistic, although Audit could find no evidence of a concerted and co-ordinated effort to fully implement the new principles within the Department until around 1986 and 1987, that is, after

the audit had commenced. At the end of 1986 there were numerous situations where the new principles were not being complied with. Even by early 1988, although some progress had been made, there were still many locations at which the explosives-related operations did not comply with the safety principles adopted by the Department.

In cases where the safety principles could not immediately be complied with, temporary dispensations (called waivers) were provided for in instructions associ­ ated with the introduction of the new safety principles. Waivers are a mechanism to allow continuation of non-compliant activities pending rectification, either through

the modification of departmental activities or the construction of new facilities. Audit observed that more than 100 waivers had either been issued or were pending approval, and concluded that departmental operations were conducted in a manner that imposed a level of hazard to the public, facilities and departmental personnel

that was greater than the level acceptable under the safety principles. In addition, several situations were noted where waivers had not been sought or obtained but non-compliant operations continued, e.g. RAN operations in Sydney Harbour and some operations within the Office of Defence Production. The legal responsibility

should an accident occur in such instances, is somewhat unclear.

Audit noted that the Department did not have centralised records from which it could assess the extent of its non-compliant operations or activities. At the time the Department adopted the new safety principles, which it concluded did not differ significantly from its earlier safety principles, it was apparently unaware of the

extent of non-compliance with those earlier safety principles and therefore consid­ ered that the costs involved in adopting the new principles would be minimal. In the event, the costs involved have been substantial, notwithstanding the possibility that some part of these costs may eventually have been incurred anyway if the

Department had acted to bring its operations into compliance with its earlier safety principles. The proposed RAN Jervis Bay Armament Depot, for example, is

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Snapper Island (foreground), Spectacle Island and Pulpit Point (refer section 11). A ll photos in this Report were provided by courtesy o f the Department o f Defence.

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estimated to cost in excess of $160m. As at the time of preparation of this report the Department still did not have available an estimate of the full costs involved in bringing its operations into line with its prescribed safety principles.

Safety principles for explosives embody a certain level of safety and inherently involve a degree of risk. The Department received advice from the Attorney- General that a decision to endanger the public is one such as is usually reserved for the Government. As early as 1980, however, the Department of Administrative

Services advised the Department of Defence that Government endorsement of the NATO safety principles should be sought for all explosives manufacturing and storage facilities operated by Commonwealth departments and authorities. Notwith­ standing such advice, the Department has not yet sought Government endorsement

for acceptance of the level of safety and risk inherent in its safety principles.

The Department of Defence has a considerable investment in explosives-related facilities. In order to protect this investment the Department has adopted a system involving the provision of safeguarding maps to local government planning authori­ ties. Where explosives-related activities project hazard zones beyond the Common­

wealth property boundary, such information should be provided to the authorities so as to ensure that proposals for developments that are incompatible with the Department’s activities do not proceed. At present there are no legislative provisions to enable enforcement of restrictions on the use of land surrounding defence

establishments and the Department has opted for the abovementioned process of consultation. However, Audit found that, for various reasons, safeguarding maps generally were not being provided. In cases where hazard zones extended beyond the Commonwealth property boundary, the Department tended to reduce its explo­ sives storage and handling activities so that safety arcs were contained within existing boundaries. This practice has implications for operational capability and Audit concluded that the Department was not adequately protecting its interests in explosives-related facilities.

The Department has responded positively to most of the 21 recommendations contained in this report, although it has not provided an indication of the timing of its proposed actions.

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INTRODUCTION

1.1 Audit objectives and scope

1.1.1 The Department of Defence operates more than 1000 sites for the storage and handling of explosives at over 40 establishments throughout Australia and overseas. The value of these explosives-related facilities has been estimated by the Department to be in the order of several hundred million dollars.

1.1.2 An examination of the implementation and operation of safety principles for storage and handling of explosives within the Department of Defence began in late 1985 as part of a general audit review of the Department’s Facilities Division. The review was formally designated as an efficiency audit in December 1986 and a draft report was provided to the Department on 3 February 1987. At the Department’s request, meetings with various elements of the Department were held over several months to discuss and clarify alleged errors and misconceptions perceived by the

Department as contained in the draft report. Following these meetings and review of additional departmental records, another draft report, essentially similar to the first, was provided to the Department on 16 September 1987. Audit considered that, in general, the Department did not substantiate its objections to the February

1987 draft report; however, during the intervening period the Department did take certain action to improve its operations and obtained Ministerial approval for explosives-related operations at one base, which had previously been operating without such approval, and sought Ministerial approval for its operations in Sydney Harbour. Details of these matters are included in the report.

1.1.3 A formal exit interview was held with the Department on 7 October 1987. The Department’s responses following the exit interview were received between 6 November and 10 December 1987 and were taken into account in preparing the proposed audit report, which was formally submitted to the Department under sub­ section 48F(3) of the Audit Act 1901 on 14 January 1988. Formal comment on the proposed report was provided by the Department on and following 15 February

1988. Comments on certain aspects of the draft report were also obtained from the Departments of Administrative Services and Transport and Communications where administrative responsibility rested with those departments.

1.1.4 The objective of the audit was to evaluate the administrative effectiveness of the Department’s procedures and practices relating to its operations involving the storage and handling of explosives. The three Services hold ammunition and other explosive ordnance for training purposes and/or operational readiness. Some types of explosive ordnance are produced by the defence factories and some are developed or used in research by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation laboratories.

1.1.5 There are various ways in which the hazard from storing and handling explosives can be reduced. These methods can be designed either to reduce the probability of unintended fires or explosions or to lessen the scope for personal injury or property damage in the event of an explosion.

1.1.6 The audit was directed at the arrangements in force within the Department of Defence to lessen the impact of an accidental explosion. The approach adopted was to examine the relevant departmental instructions and, from records available, assess the level of compliance with those instructions. Audit did not attempt to assess the adequacy of the safety principles inherent in the instructions, but rather their application and management within the Department.

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1.1.7 The audit was undertaken at Defence Central, Canberra, but drew on audit observations arising from the recent efficiency audit of RAAF explosive ordnance1 and a number of other audits conducted in recent years of the Department’s operations. Inspections were also made of the Department’s establishments at

Maribyrnong, Victoria and the Navy ammunitioning route in Sydney, New South Wales.

1.1.8 The audit was carried out in conformance with the Australian Audit Office Auditing Standards.

1 The Auditor-General Efficiency A udit Report, Department o f Defence'. R A A F explosive ordnance Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra 1987.

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2. BACKGROUND

2.1 Storage and processing policies

2.1.1 The effects of an explosion of a given magnitude can be reduced by the use of facilities which to some extent contain the effect, or through the physical separation of the explosion site from people and property. The magnitude of an

explosion can be minimised by keeping the quantity of explosives as low as possible and separating explosives to prevent propagation of any explosion.

2.1.2 The Department’s policy for the design and location of storage and process­ ing facilities for explosives is basically that the quantity and type of explosives at a given location be such that the effects of an explosion would be ‘tolerable’. That is, the Department recognises that the risk in storing and handling explosives can be

minimised, but not eliminated. Therefore, holding explosives at any location must allow for the possibility of an explosion. Implementation of the policy includes consideration of the structure of the facility, terrain, proximity and nature of any

people, buildings, roads, etc, and the location, type, compatibility and quantity of other explosives nearby.

2.2 Development of safety principles

2.2.1 Until the late 1970s the Department of Defence and the defence factories followed safety principles developed by the United Kingdom in the 1920s for the storage and handling of explosives. In 1976 the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation developed safety principles (the NATO Principles) for handling and storing of explosives, based on the United Nations System for the Categorisation o f Hazard­ ous Goods and from data obtained from trials and analysis of explosives damage.

2.2.2 UK experts prepared guidelines, in the form of a series of leaflets, for the application of the NATO Principles in the UK. These guidelines were selected as the basis for the implementation of the principles to be used in Australia, both in

the Department of Defence and the defence factories (the latter were not a part of the Department at the time). The NATO Principles comprise the standard for the separation of explosives from explosives workers, from other people and from various categories of facilities. Other countries that had adopted the NATO Princi­ ples by 1980 included Belgium, Canada, Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, the UK, the US, and the Federal Republic of Germany; others considering the adoption of the NATO Principles at that time included Turkey, the Netherlands, France and

Denmark. In addition, the Australian States and other Commonwealth Government Departments had also adopted the UN System.

2.2.3 The principles adopted by the Department of Defence were, however, more stringent than those developed by NATO. This was as a result of recommendations made to the Department by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, following enquiries into a case involving the holding of explosives near privately owned land (see sections 3.2.1 to 3.2.3). These principles provide for the categorisation of explosives according to the potential hazard, ranging from division 1.1, the most hazardous group, to 1.5. The principles also cover the compatibility of different types of explosives and such matters as storage quantities and the distances between store­ houses, other facilities and property boundaries. The new safety principles were to become effective in the Department of Defence by December 1983.

2.2.4 The Department’s safety principles cover the storage of ammunition and explosives. For transportation of explosives the Department has adopted the Aus­ tralian Code fo r Transportation o f Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail which in

6

turn has been adopted from the UN System o f Transportation o f Dangerous Goods. Transport of explosives by air is covered by the International Civil Aviation Organisation Regulations and transport by sea, by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code. Explosives Regulations, which are issued by the Depart­ ment of Transport and Communications, and are more specific to the transportation of explosives, were issued in 1965 pursuant to the Explosives Act 1961 and to date

have not been amended to reflect the introduction of metrication, the UN System of classification and the NATO Principles. Audit noted that there has been a considerable delay in the revision and re-issue of the Explosives Regulations.

2.2.5 The Department of Transport and Communications commented that in its view, public safety is not being compromised by any delays in promulgating new regulations. It considered that the principles contained in the present regulations are still quite valid and do not conflict with either the UN System or NATO

Principles. The Department did not provide advice of the expected date for promulgation of revised regulations but did state that the task of revising the regulations is technically complex and expected to be a lengthy one. In recognition

of this, during 1982 the then Minister for Transport issued a legal order under the Explosives Regulations which enabled alternative marking of explosives containers and packaging for transport within Australia using the UN numbering and classifi­ cation system.

2.3 Definitions

2.3.1 The safety principles involve a number of technical concepts and terms. Terms used and the definitions of these terms in the context of this report are set out below:

(i) a potential explosion site is a facility or location where ammunition and/or explosives are or will be stored or processed and at which there is therefore the potential for an accident involving explosives (ii) an exposed site is any facility or any location at which people gather which

would be subject to the effects of an explosion or fire at a potential explosion site (in) hazarding is the risk or exposure to danger of injury, death or damage to property in terms of the relationship between a potential explosion site and

an exposed site. The Department of Defence has defined hazarding as the existence of a situation or activity involving events whose consequences are undesirable, to some unknown degree and whose future occurrence is uncertain (iv) quantity distances are the prescribed minimum separations between potential explosion sites and exposed sites. These distances have been determined from

experiments and review of explosions and vary depending on the type and quantity of explosives, the structure of the storage or processing facility, the location of natural or artificial traversing (earth mounds), the structure and importance of the exposed site and the population likely to be at the exposed

site at the time of an accident (v) inside quantity distances are those which govern the distances between a potential explosion site and other parts of the complex, such as other explo­ sives facilities, related administrative buildings and storage and maintenance

facilities

(vi) outside quantity distances are those which are applicable between a potential explosion site and facilities which are not directly a part of the explosives operations. There are three outside quantity distances, viz: 7

• the minor public traffic route distance is the minimum distance at which facilities and activities involving members of the public should normally be permitted. It is defined as the distance beyond which serious blast injury is unlikely although debris still presents a significant risk to those exposed • the inhabited building distance (IBD) is the minimum distance at which inhabited

buildings or major public traffic routes should normally be permitted. This is defined as the distance within which serious structural damage to buildings and serious injury or death of personnel may be expected resulting from an explosion at the establishment. For the most hazardous category of explosives, there is an over-riding minimum IBD except where some form of containment of the effects

of an explosion can be shown • the major facilities distance is the minimum distance at which facilities where large numbers of people may congregate would normally be permitted. At the major facilities distance, very large windows (greater than 1.2 metres square)

could break but would not be expected to produce hazardous fragments. The possibility of people, in busy areas such as shopping streets adjacent to high-rise structures, being hit by glass and falling panels exists at the major facilities distance.

(vii) safeguarding lines are notional lines around establishments for the purpose of protecting the capacity of the establishment to store or process explosives (see section 7). There are three safeguarding lines which equate to the envelope of the outermost of each of the outside quantity distances of the

facilities at each establishment:

• the Green Line is the envelope of the minor public traffic route distances • the Yellow Line is the envelope of the inhabited building distances, and • the Purple Line is the envelope of the major facilities distances.

2.3.2 The guidelines prepared in the UK for the application of the NATO Principles include tables which list separations required between potential explosion sites and exposed sites, making allowance for the various attributes of the potential explosion site, the exposed site and intervening terrain. Thus, for any given potential explosion site and exposed site, it is possible from the tables to determine what explosives can be held, or what modifications to the sites are required in order that a given collection of explosives can be located at the potential explosion site.

2.3.3 Quantity distances do not ensure absolute safety: they are intended to be a compromise between that state and the practical considerations of cost. Thus, while at the specified quantity distances fragments are not expected to cause serious or lethal wounds, there remains the possibility of injury being caused by broken glass and secondary debris as a result of blast from the site of an explosion.

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3. THE SAFETY PRINCIPLES INSTRUCTION

3.1 Background

3.1.1 In May 1981 Defence Instruction (General) SUP 20-1 (the Safety Principles Instruction) was issued under the Defence Act 1903 by the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the Department. This instruction marked the formal adoption of the UN Classification System and NATO Principles in respect of

ammunition and explosives held by the Services and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation. (Adoption of the NATO Principles by the defence fac­ tories is covered at section 9.)

3.2 Ombudsman’s recommendations

3.2.1 The Ombudsman gave consideration to representations from a complainant which related, in part, to endeavours by the Department to prevent use of private land in a manner which was incompatible with explosives operations conducted on

an adjoining defence establishment. In 1980, the Ombudsman recommended that:

(a) as far as practicable, the Department of Defence ensure that outside quantity distances are confined within Commonwealth property, and (b) where any outside quantity distances extend beyond Commonwealth property, the Department ensure that any landholders affected are appropriately notified

and special agreements made.

3.2.2 The Department accepted these recommendations and, as a result, the Safety Principles Instruction was drafted to provide that, unless other clearly demonstrable specific conditions apply and are likely to apply in the future, land out to the inhabited building distance must be wholly contained within the Commonwealth

property boundary.

3.2.3 Audit noted, however, that the Instruction does not provide for affected landowners to be advised when one of the outside quantity distances, the major facilities distance, extends beyond the Commonwealth property boundary. Also,

Audit found no evidence that the Department had notified or intended to notify affected landholders.

3.2.4 Audit therefore recommends that, to accord with the Ombudsman’s recom­ mendation which it had accepted, the Department ensure that where any outside quantity distances extend beyond the Commonwealth property boundary, affected landholders are appropriately notified and special agreements made (Recommen­

dation No. 1).

3.2.5 The Department advised in October 1987 that it accepted there was a need to notify landholders affected by outside quantity distances and that this would be incorporated when the Safety Principles Instruction is re-issued.

3.3 Implementation timetable

3.3.1 The Safety Principles Instruction, issued in May 1981, recognised that imple­ mentation of the new safety principles would take some time, and allowed for progressive implementation up to December 1983 (see Exhibit 1 below). Details of situations involving non-compliance were to be advised to the Department’s Chief

of Supply, who was then to co-ordinate any further action required. However, the nature of the further action required was not specified.

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Exhibit 1 Sections 9 to 11 of the Safety Principles Instruction promulgated in May 1981

IM P L E M E N T A TIO N 9. In order to facilitate planning and co-ordination, the following actions are to be taken by the Services and DSTO, within the anticipated time frames provided: Action

Reclassify explosives seeking advice where necessary from the Australian Ordnance Council Explosives Storage Com­ mittee (ESC) and provide details to CETC. Inform all local firefighting authorities of the introduction of the UN Classification System for Service explosives.

Prior to transporting reclassified items, the items are to be labelled with the old and new systems, (until the appro­ priate publications and regulations are amended). Compile and distribute amendments to publications for

implementation. Produce storage plans based upon: (1) existing facilities (2) reclassification, and

(3) new quantity distance tables. Locate explosives and ammunition in accordance with the storage plans. Ensure that planning for new works takes cognisance of

the UN System, NATO Principles and the requirements of paragraph 10.

Time Frame

Up to December 1981 Prior to the display of new fire fighting signs

Up to December 1983

Up to December 1983

Progressively 1983 Progressively 1983

to December

to December

Now (May 1981)

10. Unless other clearly demonstrable specific conditions apply (and are likely to apply in the future), the Outside Quantity Distance to be used in determining the distance from the potential explosion site to the Commonwealth land boundary is that applicable to structures and facilities in Group IV as defined in D /E ST C /10 Leaflet No 5, Part 1,

Appendix 1.

11. Under those circumstances where specific conditions do not apply and it is not possible to contain Quantity Distances within the boundaries of Commonwealth land, advice is to be furnished to the Chief of Supply, who will co-ordinate any further action necessary in association with the Service concerned and other relevant Defence Central Divisions.

3.3.2 A review of relevant departmental records did not reveal evidence of a concerted effort to achieve the timetable specified in the Safety Principles Instruc­ tion for compliance with the new safety principles. As discussed at section 5, delays against that timetable have been substantial.

3.4 Adequacy of the Instruction

3.4.1 Audit reviewed the adequacy of the Instruction and noted that:

(i) it provided for an exemption from the requirement to report situations where an outside quantity distance extended beyond the Commonwealth property boundary in cases when ‘... other clearly demonstrable specific conditions’ applied. However, it neither indicated who was authorised to determine whether the exemption applied to a given situation nor what criteria should be used in making the determination. Audit noted that as a consequence it tended to encourage inconsistent interpretations

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(ii) it depended on self-regulation with no requirement for independent verifica­ tion of compliance. Thus, whereas an attempt to comply can cause a great deal of additional work and inconvenience and any reduction in risk is likely to be perceived as inconsequential, failure to comply would be unlikely to be

detected except in the improbable event of an accident. Audit noted, however, that this inadequacy was in part compensated for by procedures adopted by some of the individual elements of Defence, such as routine inspections of establishments during which adherence to licence limits, for instance, may be

checked

(iii) action to be taken in situations where the inhabited building distance or minor public traffic route distance extended beyond the Commonwealth property boundary was not specified, and (iv) the wording left scope for uncertainty as to whether it applied to elements of

the Department other than the Services and the Defence Science and Tech­ nology Organisation. A formal amendment to the Instruction, specifying that its provisions also applied to the Office of Defence Production, was issued on 30 January 1987, some two years after that entity was incorporated into the

Department.

11

RAAF wait traverse trial: Woomera, S.A., 1987.

Loading bombs into the stack.

36 1000 lb bombs, equivalent to 8000 kg o f TNT, were loaded into the stack.

12

Traverses before detonation.

Traverse located at 10 metres from the stack, after detonation.

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Slack area after detonation.

3.4.2 Audit recommendations for amendments to the Instruction to overcome perceived inadequacies are at section 4.2.3.

3.4.3 In February 1988 the Department argued that paragraph 11 of the Safety Principles Instruction (reproduced at Exhibit 1) provided sufficient guidance on actions to be taken in cases where outside quantity distances extended beyond the Commonwealth property boundary. Audit accepts that the Instruction provides guidance in that the Chief of Supply should be advised in these cases, but notes that guidance is absent beyond that point. The issue by the Department of the Waivers Instruction, which provided direction on the specific action to be taken in such cases (see section 4), is evidence that the Department itself recognised, after some time, that the guidance provided in the Safety Principles Instruction was inadequate.

3.5 Compatibility mixing rules

3.5.1 As well as allocating explosive ordnance into hazard groups, the Depart­ ment’s safety principles divide explosives into 12 compatibility groups. Items are deemed compatible if they can be stored or transported together without signifi­ cantly increasing the probability or magnitude of an accident.

3.5.2 Audit noted, however, that the principles did not define clearly which compatibility groups may be transported together and, as a result, differing inter­ pretations had been made within the Department.

3.5.3 The Explosives Storage Committee, a sub-committee of the Australian Ord­ nance Council, was set up to advise on the storage and transportation of explosive ordnance. In late 1984, this sub-committee was given the task of developing a

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standard set of rules for compatibility mixing of explosive ordnance and guidelines for the application of these rules. The Australian Ordnance Council is a Department of Defence body set up to advise on all safety aspects of weapons containing explosive ordnance.

3.5.4 A set of compatibility group mixing guidelines for storage of explosives was produced by the Australian Ordnance Council in October 1986. However, as at the time of preparation of this report, the guidelines had not been adopted formally by

the Department of Defence and compatibility group mixing guidelines pertaining to the transport of explosives had not been produced.

3.5.5 Given the length of time that this matter has remained unresolved Audit recommends that priority be given to the formal adoption by the Department of compatibility mixing rules for explosives, based on the UN System (Recommenda­ tion No. 2),

3.5.6 In February 1988 the Department advised that during the period of the audit the UK authorities promulgated mixing rules in their series of leaflets. It added that the rules were not dissimilar to those that had been advocated by the Australian Ordnance Council and were automatically adopted by the Department

in September 1987.

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4. THE WAIVERS INSTRUCTION

4.1 Background

4.1.1 In September 1984 the Department issued Defence Instruction (General) SUP 20-2 entitled ‘Explosive Ordnance Classification, Safeguarding and Waivers’ (the Waivers Instruction). This was designed to cover situations where operations involving explosives were considered essential but could not be conducted without

contravening the prescribed safety principles. Waivers formally authorise departures from the Safety Principles Instruction which may increase the degree of risk of, or the hazard from, an explosion. The NATO Principles acknowledge the possibility

of ‘occasions when cogent economic or operations considerations, usually of a temporary nature, warrant the acceptance of a considerably greater risk to life and property’ 2. Waivers are usually issued for specified periods pending implementation of remedial action. The Waivers Instruction provided for two categories of waivers,

Departmental Risk Waivers and Public Risk Waivers.

4.1.2 Departmental Risk Waivers are relevant where the effects of departure from the Safety Principles Instruction would not increase the hazard beyond the defence- occupied Commonwealth property boundary. Under the Waivers Instruction, these can be approved by specified senior officers in the Services and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, with advice of the approval being forwarded to the Chief of Supply.

4.1.3 Public Risk Waivers are to cover instances where the departure from the Safety Principles Instruction may increase the hazard beyond the Defence-occupied Commonwealth property boundary. Where these involve increased hazard to the general public (e.g. dwellings, offices and waterways), Ministerial approval is re­ quired. Instances involving procurement of, or arrangement of formal agreements covering, land to which public access is limited, can be approved by the Chief of Supply with advice of the approval being sent to the Minister.

4.1.4 The effects of the issue of waivers, under civil, criminal and military law, were found to be somewhat unclear. As outlined elsewhere in this report, Audit requested the Department to clarify these matters by obtaining formal legal advice from the Attorney-General’s Department.

4.1.5 Development of the Waivers Instruction was influenced, and probably de­ layed, by concerns as to the personal legal liability, in the event of an accident, of individuals who had authorised and/or conducted explosives-related operations other

than in accordance with established procedures. As a result of advice from various Commonwealth legal bodies and Service and internal departmental legal entities, Ministerial approval was sought for the proposed waiver procedures. Those proce­ dures nominated the Minister as the approving authority for most waivers where the relevant non-compliance increased the hazard beyond the Defence-occupied Commonwealth property boundary. 4.1.6 Audit noted that the submission to the Minister seeking approval for the proposed waiver procedures did not direct his attention to legal advice to the effect that the individual approving a waiver could be held personally liable in the event of an accident. A copy of an advice from the Attorney-General was, however, attached to the submission.

4.1.7 Following receipt of the initial submission regarding the then-proposed waiver procedures, the Minister requested more specific information including advice on:

2 Manual of NATO Safety Principles for the Storage of Ammunition and Explosives, Part 1, Clause 101C.

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• facilities which did not meet the safety requirements, but where action was being taken to meet the requirements through the acquisition of land, and • details of facilities where safety requirements could not be met through the purchase of land.

4.1.8 The Department’s response provided a list of eight locations and some detail about each. Following the receipt of this information, the Minister approved the waiver procedures.

4.1.9 Audit’s review of departmental records indicated that the Department's Supply Division had received submissions seeking waivers where the risk extended beyond the Defence-occupied land for an additional four locations and advice that another establishment, in numerous respects, did not meet the safety principles.

Departmental records did not disclose any reasons for the exclusion of these establishments from the list provided to the Minister.

4.2 Adequacy of the Instruction

4.2.1 Audit reviewed the adequacy of the Instruction for providing authorisation to continue operations under circumstances or in a manner which was less safe than was normally considered acceptable. It was noted that:

(i) unlike the Safety Principles Instruction, the Waivers Instruction provided no phasing-in period. All circumstances requiring a waiver therefore immediately became non-compliant and should, according to the Instruction, have ceased operating (ii) there was no provision to facilitate the continuation of essential operations

which were found to be non-compliant, while possible remedial action was identified, submissions prepared and evaluated and finally a decision made on whether to grant a waiver to permit operations to continue until completion of remedial action, and (iii) there was no requirement to report when the need for a waiver was identified

and preparation of a submission began.

4.2.2 The potential effect of these inadequacies was that:

• if the Instruction was applied strictly, essential operations which were found to be non-compliant would cease pending development of a solution, subsequent preparation of a waiver request and consideration and approval of that waiver • if operations continued because they were essential or could not be stopped (e.g.

bulk storage), the personnel involved would be at legal risk, especially should an accident occur • the Department would be denied the opportunity for prompt advice of specific instances of non-compliance and therefore knowledge of the overall level of non­

compliance, and • there would be a tendency to adopt hastily conceived solutions.

4.2.3 Audit recommends that the instructions be revised to:

(i) clarify the reference in the Safety Principles Instruction to \ .. other clearly demonstrable specific conditions’ and the authority responsible for determin­ ing whether they apply (Recommendation No. 3) (ii) provide for verification of adherence to departmental instructions for the

storage and processing of explosives by a body independent of the manage­ ment responsible for conducting the explosives operations (Recommendation No. 4) 17

(iii) clarify the applicability of the instructions to all ammunition and explosives held by the Department (Recommendation No. 5) (iv) require prompt reporting of non-compliant situations when identified (Rec­ ommendation No. 6), and

(v) provide a means for the controlled continuation of non-compliant activities while proposals for waivers and remedial action are prepared and considered, so that personnel are not put in the position of having little or no choice but to continue operations which are non-compliant (Recommendation No. 7).

4.2.4 In February 1988 the Department advised that it accepted the above rec­ ommendations, which would be incorporated in a rewrite of the appropriate Def­ ence Instructions.

4.2.5 Introduction and amendment of the Safety Principles and Waivers Instruc­ tions took a considerable time. In Audit’s opinion it is probable that amendments to those instructions to implement the above Audit recommendations will similarly take time. In the intervening period, non-compliant operations would continue to be beyond the control of the level of management deemed by the Minister to be appropriate. Audit therefore recommends that, pending revision of the Waivers

Instruction, the Department forthwith bring non-compliant operations within the provisions of the Waivers Instruction, either by cessation of the identified non- compliant operations or by issue of waivers (Recommendation No. 8). Such waivers could be issued on the basis that the action proposed to overcome the situation is

the determination and implementation of a solution and the period of the requested waiver is the time required to prepare a waiver request that includes a plan of specific actions.

4.2.6 In February 1988 the Department advised that Recommendation No. 8 was not accepted at this stage because legal advice is to be sought (see section 6.1.5).

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5. PROCESSING OF WAIVERS

5.1 Background

5.1.1 Audit reviewed certain aspects of the processing of waivers at Defence Central to assess the operational effectiveness of the system. Audit comments on the operation of that system are set out below.

5.2 Public Risk Waivers

5.2.1 The Instruction provides for submissions seeking Public Risk Waivers to be sent to the Department’s Chief of Supply. As stated in section 4.1.3, in view of the potential consequences of accepting additional risks in areas of land beyond the Defence-occupied Commonwealth property boundary, the Instruction provides for

all Public Risk Waivers to be approved by, or brought to the attention of, the Minister. In this regard, the Minister has approved that where risks to the public are involved, such as with dwellings, offices, buildings, factories, roads, railways, waterways and the like, ministerial approval of the waiver is required. However,

where the Department is undertaking action to procure private or State-owned land, or where agreements have been or are being negotiated with State or local government instrumentalities, etc, in respect of areas to which public access is limited, (such as water supply catchment areas) approval of the waiver may be

granted by the Chief of Supply and the Minister informed accordingly.

5.2.2 A number of likely Public Risk Waiver situations had been identified and advised to the Minister before the introduction, in September 1984, of the Waivers Instruction. A few others, including the RAAF base at Butterworth, Malaysia (see section 12.3), were identified subsequently but the Minister was not informed.

5.2.3 As at the end of 1986, more than two years after the introduction of the Waivers Instruction, no Public Risk Waiver submissions had been sent to the Minister and the Minister had not been advised of any Public Risk Waivers approved by the Chief of Supply.

5.2.4 Audit observed that:

• the Minister had not had the opportunity to determine whether the non-compliant activities should continue or cease. Most activities had continued pending prepa­ ration and resolution of the submissions (see sections 8 to 12) • the public and non-defence property had been and continued to be subject to a

degree of risk which was greater than that accepted under departmental policy. This occurred without a decision to do this being made at the level determined by the Minister to be appropriate • in order to continue activities considered essential, the Chiefs of Staff of the

Army, Navy and Air Force and other Service personnel had no choice but to authorise and undertake explosives operations contrary to departmental instruc­ tions and written policy. As well as complications under military law, this raised questions of personal liability, in both criminal and civil law, particularly had an

accident occurred, and • there is evidence that submissions which could have been sent to the Minister were delayed deliberately for many months in order that other unrelated submis­ sions would be the first to reach the Minister (see section 11.2.2 (vii)).

5.2.5 Audit recommends that prompt action be taken to expedite the consideration of outstanding Public Risk Waiver requests at the Chief of Supply or ministerial level as appropriate (Recommendation No. 9). Audit further recommends that

19

action be taken to ensure that any future instances requiring Public Risk Waivers are processed in a timely manner (Recommendation No. 10).

5.2.6 The Department advised, in February 1988, that Recommendation No. 9 was noted and that at this time there were no outstanding Public Risk Waiver applications requiring Ministerial consideration. As stated at section 11.2.14, how­ ever, the Public Risk Waiver application for RAN Sydney Harbour operations was

not sent to the Minister until mid-February 1988. The Department also advised that it accepted Recommendation No. 10 and that the appropriate Defence Instruc­ tion would be rewritten to incorporate this requirement.

5.2.7 With respect to the legal position of Service personnel who, in order to continue operations which were considered essential, were obliged to contravene the Waivers Instruction, Audit noted that the various Service Chiefs had approved the continuation of some operations for which a Public Risk Waiver submission had been sent, pending a decision on whether a waiver would be approved. In 1985 when one of the Services requested advice as to the status of such operations, the response from Supply Division merely advised that it was up to the Service Chiefs to decide whether operations should continue or not.

5.2.8 Audit considers that this advice did not address the primary issue and purported to leave Service Chiefs the responsibility for the decision regarding the continuation of operations which were less safe than required by departmental instructions. Audit noted that such advice was contrary to the provisions of the

Waivers Instruction.

5.2.9 The Waivers Instruction states that in making application for a waiver all options must be examined, including alternative locations, relocation, reconstruction or operation with reduced quantities of explosives. Most Public Risk Waiver submissions reviewed by Audit included a section entitled ‘Alternatives to Agree­ ment’, apparently intended to satisfy this requirement. Statements in these sections, however, were generally such that they would be of little benefit to the Minister or the Chief of Supply in considering the merits of Public Risk Waiver applications. To illustrate this point a submision by RAAF regarding a waiver for its Edinburgh base, stated that there were no alternative proposals and that if the proposal could not be agreed, certain buildings could not be used for storing explosive ordnance.

Leaving aside the question of whether RAAF’s advice was correct (refer section 12.4), the statement did not provide the delegate with any information on the implications for RAAF operations of not using those buildings for explosive ord­ nance purposes.

5.2.10 In Audit’s view the delegate’s consideration of whether or not to allow a waiver must encompass a comparison of the detrimental effect of granting that waiver, namely the increase in public risk, with the benefits of continued operation or the maintenance of operational effectiveness. By this criterion advice such as

that provided by RAAF, referred to above, does not assist the decision maker.

5.2.11 Audit recommends that future waiver submissions provide comprehensive details of alternative proposals and of the effects on operations that would result if a waiver was not granted (Recommendation No. 11).

5.2.12 In February 1988 the Department accepted this recommendation and ad­ vised that the appropriate Defence Instruction would be amended.

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5.3 Departmental Risk Waivers

5.3.1 Departmental Risk Waivers may be approved by certain higher level Service and Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) officers and a copy of each approved waiver should be sent to the Chief of Supply. Audit noted that as at the end of December 1986, no copies of RAAF, DSTO or Office of Defence

Production (ODP) Departmental Risk Waivers had been received by the Chief of Supply. In regard to DSTO and ODP it was unclear whether this was as a result of no such waivers having been issued or of a failure to send copies of approved waivers as required. However, it was observed that RAAF had issued Departmental

Risk Waivers but had not sent copies to the Chief of Supply.

5.3.2 Audit found that the Department did not have a centralised record of the level and extent of Departmental Risk Waivers and therefore recommends that copies of all Departmental Risk Waivers be sent to a central body, as required under the Defence Instructions, and be compiled to form a centralised record

providing an awareness of the overall situation in the Department (Recommenda­ tion No. 12).

5.3.3 The Department accepted this recommendation and advised in February 1988 that action was in hand.

5.4 Developments following completion of audit field work

5.4.1 On 30 July 1987 the Department submitted for Ministerial consideration a request for a Public Risk Waiver for RAAF operations at Butterworth, Malaysia. The submission referred to the urgency to obtain approval before an air-to-ground

bombing exercise, scheduled for the period 3 to 14 August 1987. The submission advised that the exercise could not be deferred in the short term as alternate bookings could not be made for the range, which was controlled by and booked through the Singapore Armed Forces. The Public Risk Waiver was approved by

the Minister for Defence on 4 August 1987.

5.4.2 Audit noted that the submission concerning operations at Butterworth was the first Public Risk Waiver sent to the Minister since the waivers procedure had received ministerial approval in March 1984.

5.4.3 Audit observed that:

(i) the timing of the submission by the Department and the apparently unalter­ able dates for which the bombing range had been booked by RAAF allowed only three days for ministerial consideration of the submission, which had taken the Department more than two years to prepare (ii) the submission recorded that operations at Butterworth had been restricted

to permit the Minister to consider issuing a waiver; however, separate depart­ mental records indicated that RAAF had continued operations required to meet international commitments, notwithstanding that these required a waiver, and had continued bombing operations at least until mid-1985, although these

also required a waiver (iii) RAAF was quoted in the July 1987 submission as advising that bombing operations were ‘essential’, yet other records indicated these operations, due to be conducted twice yearly, had ceased in mid-1985—thus the Minister was

advised that it was ‘essential’ to conduct twice-yearly operations that had not been conducted for two years (iv) the background material addressed the situation in terms of quantity distances required by the NATO Principles only, without referring to the overriding

21

requirement of the Department’s Safety Principles Instruction that for calcu­ lating such separations, the Commonwealth property boundary be treated as equivalent to an inhabited building. Audit considers that, as the Instructions require that the more stringent of the Australian and the host country safety principles be complied with, this was not an adequate presentation of the situation, and (v) the extent of the hazarding requiring a Public Risk Waiver was reduced

substantially during the years that it took for the submission to be sent to the Minister. The reduction in the extent of hazarding arose substantially from the phasing out of one type of weapon which had been used on the Mirage aircraft.

5.4.4 The submission to the Minister also advised of seven Public Risk Waivers which had been approved by the Chief of Supply. This was apparently intended to satisfy the requirement in the Waivers Instruction that the Minister be advised of Public Risk Waivers approved by the Chief of Supply. Audit considers that the

Department was unnecessarily and unreasonably slow in providing this advice. The time taken to process the requests and to advise the Minister of waivers approved is detailed in Table 1 below.

TABLE 1 PUBLIC RISK WAIVER APPROVALS ADVISED TO THE MINISTER— JULY 1987

Location

Date to Chief

o f Supply

Date Public R isk Waiver approved

Time (mths)

Date

M inister advised

Time (mths)

Army Proof and Experi­ mental Establishent, Gray- town, Vic 24 Jul 85 8 Aug 86 12 30 Jul 87 11

Army 221 Supply Com­ pany, Bogan Gate, NSW 11 Aug 86 16 Sep 86 1 30 Jul 87 10

Army 611 Supply Com­ pany, Fort Direction, Tas 23 Jul 85 11 Apr 86 8 30 Jul 87 15

RAAF Base, Williamtown, NSW 13 Oct 83 24 Sep 86 35 (24*) 30 Jul 87 10

RAAF Base, Amberley, Qld 18 Oct 83 27 Apr 87 42 (31*) 30 Jul 87 3

RAAF Base, Wagga Wagga, NSW 8 Nov 83 Apr 86 29 (16*) 30 Jul 87 15

RAAF Base, Pearce, WA 25 Oct 83 7 Apr 86 29 (16*) 30 Jul 87 15

* Time from issue of Waivers Instruction on 12 September 1984.

5.4.5 In March 1988 the Department advised it had on issue seven current Public Risk Waivers and 79 Departmental Risk Waivers. There were also 14 Public and two Departmental Risk Waiver submissions in preparation or receiving consideration at the time (see Table 2 below).

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TABLE 2 DETAILS OF WAIVERS—MARCH 1988

Public R isk Departmental R isk

Waivers Waivers

Organisation Establishment Approved Pending Approved Pending

RAN Sydney Harbour 4(1)

RANAD Kingswood 8 1

ARMY 131 Supply Company, Wallangarra 1

221 Supply Company, Bogan Gate 1 1

222 Supply Company, Myambat 2

223 Supply Company, Marangaroo 1

2 Army Quality Assurance Unit (M FF) " 1 1

611 Supply Company, Fort Direction 1

Proof and Experimental Establishment, Graytown 1

RAAF (2) Amberley base 1 1 8

Townsville base 3

No. 1 Central Ammunition Depot, Kingswood 11

Richmond base 1 1

Williamtown base 1 7

Wagga Wagga base East Sale base

Edinburgh base

1

1

8

Pearce base 1 1 4

Darwin base 7

ODP Munitions Filling Factory,

St Marys 1

Ammunition Factory, Footscray 2

Longlea Magazine 1

Explosives Factory, Maribyrnong 1

DSTO Weapons Systems Research Laboratory, Salisbury 17

Total (3) 7 14 79 2

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Notes:

(1) Currently with the Minister. Covers separate activities at Newington, Spectacle Island, Man-of-War Anchorages and Sydney Harbour waterways.

(2) Excludes RAAF operations at Butterworth, Malaysia, which are the subject of a Public Risk Waiver.

(3) Audit has not attempted to verify the above details, which were provided by the Department of Defence. Some waivers shown above include a number of potential explosion sites, e.g. in the case of Williamtown, 15 separate sites.

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6. APPROVAL BY GOVERNMENT

6.1.1 The Department of Defence adopted a certain safety level inherent in the Safety Principles Instruction which was approved by the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force. Inherently, the acceptance of this safety level involved the acceptance of a corresponding level of risk. Following the approval the Department

received advice from the then Attorney-General that a decision to endanger the public is one which should be made by the Government. The Department was also advised by the then Department of Administrative Services as early as June 1980 that Government endorsement of the adoption of the NATO safeguarding distances

should be sought in respect of all explosives manufacturing and storage facilities and that such endorsement should apply to all Commonwealth departments and authorities operating in this field.

6.1.2 Audit could find no evidence of why the Department had not sought Government endorsement for acceptance of the level of safety and risk inherent in the Safety Principles Instruction. This inaction is more surprising given the advice indicating a requirement for such endorsement.

6.1.3 Audit recommends that approval be sought from the Government for the acceptance of the level of risk to the public which is inherent in the Safety Principles Instruction (Recommendation No. 13).

6.1.4 In February 1988 the Department advised that it did not accept the recom­ mendation at this stage because legal advice is to be sought (see below).

6.1.5 In November 1987 the Department stated that it did not agree that Govern­ ment endorsement was required for the level of risk to the public that it had adopted through the issue of the Safety Principles Instruction. Audit requested that the Department obtain further legal advice from the Attorney-General’s Depart­

ment concerning this and several other matters at sections 4 to 6 of this report where the Department relied on its own legal interpretations and which Audit considered to be inadequately supported. For example, the Department argued that:

• compliance with its Defence Instructions (General) was not mandatory for Service and civilian personnel but that these instructions were in the nature of guidelines, implying that they need only be followed where considered suitable or convenient • the continuation of explosives activities in the knowledge that they did not

comply with the Department’s instructions did not affect the legal position in criminal or civil proceedings of its employees responsible for that decision if an accident occurred, and • upon issue of the Waivers Instruction, there was no requirement for explosives-

related operations that did not comply with the Instruction to be discontinued.

6.1.6 At the time of preparation of this report this legal advising had not been sought, notwithstanding that Audit’s request was received by the Department in early November 1987. On 19 February 1988, however, a meeting between represen­ tatives of the Department, Audit and the Attorney-General’s Department was held

to discuss the relevant issues. At that meeting the Department of Defence undertook to send a formal request for legal advice to the Attorney-General’s Department, after circulating the questions internally for consultation with interested parties. The Department indicated that this process may take several more weeks. Audit

notes that this will add further to the delays that have already occurred.

6.1.7 On 22 February 1988, however, the Department requested the Attorney- General’s Department to advise on one of the matters; whether the Safety Principles 25

and Waivers Instructions lay down mandatory rules, as distinct from being vehicles for promulgating policy, statements of intent and information. The Department of Defence advised that it would seek advice on the remaining matters after following the processes outlined above.

6.1.8 Notwithstanding any advice which the Attorney-General’s Department may subsequently provide, Audit considers that if the Department of Defence intends that non-mandatory instructions be issued, there should be some mechanism to clearly distinguish such instructions from other (mandatory) instructions.

6.1.9 Quite apart from the formal legal position Audit considers that the events detailed in section 6.1.1 are of a nature that indicate Government approval should be obtained for acceptance of the level of risk inherent in the Department’s safety principles.

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7. SAFEGUARDING

7.1 Background

7.1.1 A safeguarding map is a graphical representation of an explosives facility and the surrounding area, with an overlay showing the safeguarding zones which apply around the complex (see section 2.3.1 (vii)). In 1983 the Department of Defence adopted a policy requiring production of safeguarding maps for each of its

explosives establishments. For each establishment there was to be a classified map for departmental use and an unclassified version for release to local government and similar bodies. Following negotiations between the two departments, the then Department of Local Government and Administrative Services (DOLGAS) under­

took to produce the maps using information which would be provided by the Department of Defence.

7.2 Audit findings

7.2.1 Audit observed that the provision of necessary information by the Depart­ ment of Defence and the production of maps by DOLGAS was proving to be a time consuming process. Of the 42 establishments identified as requiring maps, as at December 1986, data had been provided to DOLGAS for only 14. Draft maps

for six establishments had been prepared by DOLGAS, but Audit noted that during the period of more than three years, from the adoption of the policy requiring the production of safeguarding maps for all facilities, to the end of 1986, no map acceptable to the Department of Defence was produced for any Service establishment.

7.2.2 Audit also noted that the Department had attempted to develop these maps based on current use of the facilities with the intention of updating the maps when that use changed. Using this short-term Defence requirement as the basis for

production of safeguarding maps could prove ineffective to the extent that:

• the use of each facility can vary and, as production of safeguarding maps has proven to be so time-consuming, maps may be obsolete by the time they are completed • the value to non-defence users of safeguarding maps is diminished as they reflect

the preference of the Department of Defence for the nature of development surrounding establishments based on current use, rather than showing long-term requirements • the value of safeguarding maps in facilitating prompt response by the Department

to proposed developments in areas surrounding establishments is diminished as the long-term departmental requirements must also be ascertained before respond­ ing to any enquiries, and • the failure to depict Yellow and Purple Lines which reflect the long-term interests

of the Department, could lead to the waste of community resources in the planning of developments which, in the interest of national security, public safety and the conservation of defence resources, will not proceed.

7.2.3 Safeguarding procedures have the potential to provide a stable basis for the Department’s dealings with external interests provided maps require amendment only in the event of significant long-term changes, thus protecting both the national defence interest and the capital investment in each facility. To achieve this potential,

Audit recommends that the Department determine the extent of landholdings and any restrictions on surrounding land use required for the long-term viability and development of each establishment. The Department should seek to acquire the

27

landholdings or ensure that the restrictions are enforced (Recommendation No. 14). In this regard it is noted that at present there are no legislative provisions to enable enforcement of restrictions on the use of land surrounding defence establishments.

7.2.4 In Audit’s view the Department has been remiss in failing to obtain appro­ priate restrictions when the facilities were established and, in many cases, the surrounding land was still undeveloped. In some cases, land surrounding facilities

had been sold or released to other users after the facilities had been established, subsequent proposals to acquire land adjoining facilities had been rejected or land surrounding facilities was rezoned, potentially allowing construction of facilities

within inappropriate distances of explosives operations, for example at St Marys, Mulwala and Kingswood in NSW and at Maribyrnong and Longlea in Victoria.

7.2.5 In February 1988 the Department emphasised that enormous costs and public inconvenience would be involved in acquiring landholdings in safeguarding zones or ensuring that the Department’s interests are otherwise protected by the imposition of restrictions. It added that consultation with landowners where the zones fall outside the Commonwealth property boundary provides no guarantee that the interests of the Department will be protected in the long-term. In the Department’s view, safeguarding can only be guaranteed by Commonwealth own­ ership of the land falling within the zones.

7.2.6 Audit observed that for the few draft maps produced maximum licencing limits had been used; however, there was no evidence to suggest that future developments of the establishments had been considered when data were provided

to DOLGAS. In addition, the Department’s procedures for the preparation of safeguarding maps did not include any reference to long-term requirements and, for most of the applicable facilities, master plans had not been prepared (see also section 6.2 of the Report of the Auditor-General, September 1987).3 Audit therefore considered that long-term requirements were not adequately addressed in the draft safeguarding maps available at the time of the audit.

7.2.7 In February 1988 the Department stated that there is no evidence to suggest that safeguarding maps will protect long-term interests and that it is very difficult to ‘crystal ball’ precise future requirements even with new establishments such as the Jervis Bay Armament Depot. It added that nevertheless, anticipated safeguard­

ing requirements are taken into account.

7.2.8 As indicated above, Audit noted a lack of evidence of departmental attempts to gain the maximum benefit from the production of safeguarding maps.

7.2.9 The Department’s response calls into question the need for safeguarding maps, given that to date the Department has not been able to provide sufficient and timely data to facilitate production of maps by DOLGAS (now Department of Administrative Services) and in view of the Department’s doubts about the useful­ ness of maps if they were produced. In the circumstances, Audit suggests that one option the Department might pursue is to seek (by legislation or other mechanisms) to enable enforcement of restrictions on the use of land surrounding defence establishments. Another alternative might be to continue the present practice of contraction of the Department’s explosives-related activities so that the prescribed safety arcs are wholly contained within the Commonwealth property boundary.

This latter option has implications for the operational capability and effectiveness of departmental operations, protecting neither the national defence interest nor the

3 T h e A u d ito r -G e n e r a l, R e p o r t o n a u d its to 3 0 J u n e 1 9 8 7 Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, September 1987.

28

considerable capital investment made in each facility. It could also lead to a need for new establishments or additional facilities. A third option would be for the Commonwealth to procure the affected land; an option which Audit accepts could also have a high cost.

29

8. DEFENCE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ORGANISATION

8.1 Background

8.1.1 The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) operates labo­ ratories at several locations in Australia. Of these, two locations were identified as conducting work requiring the storage and use of explosives. These locations are the Materials Research Laboratories, Maribyrnong (Melbourne) and the Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, located near Adelaide. The Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, comprises the Advanced Engineering Laboratory, the Weapons Systems Research Laboratory and the Electronics Research Laboratory.

8.2 Materials Research Laboratories

8.2.1 Audit noted that the Materials Research Laboratories had problems in respect of:

• quantity distances which required Departmental or Public Risk Waivers, and • the co-ordination of development and operations of the Laboratories, the Engi­ neering Development Establishment and the Explosives Factory, Maribyrnong, in view of their close proximity and consequent impact of explosives operations in

each upon the others (see section 10 ).

8.2.2 In September 1983 the Materials Research Laboratories advised DSTO Central Office that some difficulties were evident in regard to outside quantity distances relating to some of the 34 locations involved in explosives operations at

the laboratories. The advice noted that the Safety Principles Instruction required that the distance from the potential explosion site to the Commonwealth property boundary be equal to or greater than the inhabited building distance and that this was the case for only three of the locations. In the other 31 locations this requirement of the Safety Principles Instruction was not met.

8.2.3 After the Waivers Instruction was introduced, the Laboratories, having altered their operations, claimed no Public Risk Waivers were required, as compli­ ance with the ‘spirit’ of the NATO Safety Principles had been achieved, in that they had assessed:

‘the level of public risk ... existing at (the laboratories as)... less than that generally tolerated elsewhere by strict compliance’.

8.2.4 Audit considers that the Laboratories’ advice was unclear and does not demonstrate that they are complying with the Safety Principles Instruction. If something other than compliance with the Safety Principles Instruction was to be accepted then this should have been clearly stated and have been formalised. Audit considers that the provisions of the Waivers Instruction or amendment of the Safety

Principles Instruction are the means by which this formalisation could have been achieved.

8.3 Defence Research Centre, Salisbury

8.3.1 Unlike the three Services and the Materials Research Laboratories, the Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, had not operated a uniform licencing system for explosives storage and processing locations before 1986. Licencing involves the formal approval of maximum quantities of explosives that can be stored and processed at a particular facility. Licencing is conducted by organisations in order that such procedures can be, and be seen to be, kept under firm control. During

1986 the Research Centre developed and was implementing a formal licencing

30

system as required by the Safety Principles Instruction. However, Audit noted that uniform licencing procedures which provide for control of explosives operations are only now being introduced, whereas they have been in operation at other depart­ mental establishments for many years.

8.3.2 The Department claimed in November 1987 that it had a licencing system in operation before 1986 at the Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, and that this licencing was required by the then Department of Supply. Audit was unable to

verify that a licencing system was in operation but did sight numerous references on departmental files regarding the lack of a licencing system at the Research Centre. In response to Audit’s request for evidence to support the Department’s claim, copies of licences for five facilities were provided. Audit observed that:

(i) all of the licences referred to the system which was rendered obsolete by the introduction of the Safety Principles Instruction in 1981 and three expressed the licenced limits in terms of obsolete imperial measures (ii) one licence was headed ‘Department of Defence Production’ which ceased to

exist in April 1958 and the other four were headed 'Department of Supply’ which ceased to exist in June 1974, and (iii) dates were legible on only three of the licences; in two cases the date was October 1974 and in the other it was October 1966.

8.3.3 In view of the above observations, Audit considers it probable that the licences are not evidence of a system which has been operating over the last several years as suggested by the Department but rather of the explosives safety procedures which the Director of the Weapons Systems Research Laboratory observed in July

1985 were ‘... formerly well established in the Department of Supply but which have since lapsed’.

8.3.4 The Department did not provide further comment on the above.

8.4 Internal quantity distances

8.4.1 Audit noted that advice from the Materials Research Laboratories and the Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, indicated these establishments had not ad­ dressed the issue of internal quantity distances. This means that the establishments had not determined adequately the quantity distance problems which existed within their boundaries, and therefore were not in a position to rectify the problems or to seek waivers to authorise the continuation of non-compliant operations.

8.5 Recommendations

8.5.1 Audit recommends that the Department ensure that all facilities of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation comply with the Safety Principles and Waivers Instructions (Recommendation No. 15). In addition, Audit recom­ mends that if the desired level of safety in the event of a fire or explosion can be

achieved more cost-effectively through means that do not comply with the safety principles, the Department take action to facilitate the adoption of such means through amendment of the Instructions, if appropriate, while ensuring the intended level of safety is not compromised (Recommendation No. 16).

8.5.2 In February 1988 the Department advised that it accepted the above rec­ ommendations, commenting that Recommendation 16 involved risk analysis, which requires that the NATO Principles be used as guidelines rather than prescriptions. It added that this aspect was being reviewed by the Australian Ordnance Council.

31

9. OFFICE OF DEFENCE PRODUCTION

9.1 Background

9.1.1 The defence factories were not part of the Department of Defence when that Department adopted the NATO Principles. In December 1984 the Department of Defence Support was abolished and most of its functions and structure incorpo­ rated, as the Office of Defence Production, into the Department of Defence.

Departmental records indicate that since that time it has been intended that the Safety Principles and Waivers Instructions apply to these facilities.

9.1.2 Before it was incorporated into the Department of Defence, the Office of Defence Production facilities were subject to the NATO Principles. The facilities were part of the then Department of Productivity when it formally adopted the NATO Principles in June 1979 and were also covered when the Principles were adopted, apparently informally, by the then Department of Defence Support.

9.2 Audit findings

9.2.1 Notwithstanding that they had been subject to them for several years, the Office of Defence Production facilities did not comply with NATO Principles at the time of integration with the Department of Defence. Non-defence facilities

identified as being within inappropriate safeguarding zones, early in 1983, included 20 blocks of flats and over 100 dwellings.

9.2.2 The Department explained in November 1987 that the Office of Defence Production had adopted a more lenient interpretation of the NATO Principles when it was a part of the then Department of Defence Support. The Department advised that this followed the UK practice where the NATO Principles were treated as

guidelines rather than as the mandatory requirements of the Australian Department of Defence.

9.2.3 In late 1985 the Office of Defence Production had committed $4.025m to facilities expenditure which would reduce the extent of non-compliance with de­ partmental instructions. Further expenditure required to achieve total compliance was estimated at $57m, although an alternate estimate of $17m was made for

compliance with ‘the spirit’ of the principles. The latter estimate was justified as being based on policies adopted for the safeguarding of equivalent facilities in the United Kingdom.

9.2.4 As at the end of 1986, although some improvements had been made to reduce the level of non-compliance, there existed several facilities within the Office of Defence Production that did not comply with the Safety Principles Instruction. However, no applications for Public Risk Waivers oi advice of the issue of

Departmental Risk Waivers had been submitted to the Chief of Supply.

9.2.5 If the Department intends that the Office of Defence Production pursue compliance with the ‘spirit’ rather than the letter of the NATO Principles, minis­ terial approval and some modification to the Safety Principles and Waivers Instruc­ tions may be required. Subject to these considerations, Audit recommends that consideration be given to whether obtaining the marginal benefit in improved safety,

if any, is the optimal use of the estimated additional $40m required for the Office of Defence Production operations to achieve strict compliance with the current Instructions (Recommendation No. 17). 9.2.6 The Department accepted this recommendation in February 1988 comment­ ing that, like Recommendation 16, it involved risk analysis (see also departmental comments at section 8.5.2).

32

9.3 Operational Safety Committee (Explosives)

9.3.1 The Operational Safety Committee (Explosives) (which comprised personnel from the defence factories, the Office of Defence Production Central, private industry and the Victorian State Government) operated as an expert advisory body on safety matters relating to explosives, ammunition and hazardous chemicals for

the government factories, while those facilities were in various departments before becoming part of the Department of Defence. Subsequently, doubt arose as to the status of the Committee, which had operated under terms of reference approved by, and with a membership appointed by, the Minister for Defence Support.

9.3.2 Some years ago the Operational Safety Committee (Explosives) ceased to conduct a safety audit function, which had been performed under its auspices. This meant that the facilities were not subject to independent checks of compliance with safety related procedures and instructions. Audit was unable to determine from departmental records exactly when this function ceased but was advised, in January

1987, that the Committee was resuming the conduct of explosives safety audits. Audit was further advised that the Committee had conducted such a review associated with the winding down of operations at the Albion Explosives Factory and re-establishment of those operations at the Mulwala Explosives Factory.

9.3.3 Audit recommends that the status and role of the Operational Safety Com­ mittee (Explosives) or a body to replace it be formalised (Recommendation No. 18). As indicated at Recommendation 4 (section 4.2.3) consideration should be given to the adoption of procedures requiring safety audits covering all types of

defence explosives facilities.

9.3.4 The Department accepted this recommendation in February 1988.

33

10. MARIBYRNONG

10.1 Background

10.1.1 The Materials Research Laboratories, Army’s Engineering Development Establishment and the Explosives Factory, Maribyrnong, share one site at Maribyr- nong, a Melbourne suburb. Audit reviewed Defence Central Office records with respect to the co-ordination of the operations of the facilities to achieve compliance with the safety principles.

10.1.2 It had been recognised for some years that co-ordination between these establishments was required for the conduct of explosives operations in each because of the close proximity of the facilities of the three establishments. For example, Audit understands that production of a master plan was under consideration as early as 1962.

10.2 Audit findings

10.2.1 Despite the recognition of the need, Audit observed little indication of effective co-ordination. For example, although it was agreed in May 1984 to establish a working group with the aim of producing a master plan to enable co­ ordination of the activities of the three establishments, there was no evidence as at the time of preparation of this report of any progress toward such a plan.

10.2.2 One result of the Department’s lack of co-ordination was the continued use by the Engineering Development Establishment of an old building as a general engineering workshop. Originally built as a stable, by April 1986 the facility presented an occupational health and safety hazard because:

(i) the floor was a cardboard like substance which was decaying and in places was incapable of supporting technical equipment (ii) under moderate rainfall, the roof leaked and the building flooded, due to poor drainage, thus creating a major safety hazard, and (iii) the toilet/changeroom had been literally propped up in order to keep it

functioning.

10.2.3 Proposals to replace the building had floundered primarily because of objections from the Explosives Factory, Maribyrnong, to the site proposed for the new facility. The Factory had objected on the grounds that the proposed site was too close to explosives facilities within its property.

10.2.4 In December 1986, the Department recommended to the Minister that some of the Factory’s land, which at the time was not being used, should be made available for use by the public. The recommendation was made in response to a request that the Department release a larger area of land. Audit noted that the recommendation referred only to a review of Factory operations as the basis for recommending the release. From departmental records it was not apparent that the Materials Research Laboratories or Engineering Development Establishment had been consulted or that their requirements had been taken into account.

10.2.5 Audit considers that it was premature to contemplate the release of land in view of:

(i) the general confusion surrounding the operations of the three facilities, partic­ ularly unresolved questions regarding outside quantity distances (ii) the shortage of free space within the facilities as evidenced by the lack of a suitable site for the new workshop

34

(iii) the level of development of the surrounding area, and (iv) the lack of progress in regard to master planning for the three facilities (see also section 6.2 of the Report of the Auditor-General, September 1987).4 10.2.6 Audit recommends that an increased priority be given to the development of a master plan for the co-ordination and compatible operation of the Department’s facilities at Maribyrnong (Recommendation No. 19). Further, Audit recommends that the Department not sanction the release of any further land at Maribyrnong or any other location where there are unresolved problems with achieving the separations required under the Safety Principles Instruction (Recommendation No.

20 ).

10.2.7 The Department accepted the above recommendations in February 1988.

4 T h e A u d ito r -G e n e r a l, op. cit.

35

11. RAN SYDNEY OPERATIONS

11.1 Background

11.1.1 Over 95% of all loading and unloading of explosive ordnance for RAN ships takes place in Sydney Harbour. Ordnance is stored at the RAN Armament Depot, Kingswood, and transported by road as required to the RAN Armament Depot, Newington. There it is loaded into lighters which are towed down the

Parramatta River. Lighters are moored in the vicinity of Spectacle Island in the Parramatta River and, as needed, towed to the Man-of-War anchorages in Port Jackson, where loading and unloading of explosives for RAN ships is conducted.

11.2 Audit findings

11.2.1 Departmental records disclosed that operations at the RAN Armament Depot, Newington, Spectacle Island and the Man-of-War anchorages did not comply with the Safety Principles Instruction in regard to separation of potential explosion sites from civilian facilities which could be affected by an explosion. Among the

facilities and locations identified by RAN as being closer to explosives processing or storage locations than provided for in the Department’s Safety Principles in March 1986 were housing, including high rise residential complexes up to 30 storeys, a large complex of shops, part of an oil depot, a nursing home, part of the main shipping channel in Port Jackson, parts of the navigable channel in the Parramatta

River, waterfront clubs, recreation areas, yacht moorings and parts of the Cockatoo Island and Garden Island dockyards (see Exhibits 2 (a), 3 (a) and 4). In short, a large number of people and facilities costing many millions of dollars were at risk.

11.2.2 Audit reviewed various Departmental records concerning RAN operations in Sydney Harbour which disclosed that:

(i) a review by Navy in 1971 had revealed that naval operations in Sydney did not comply, and could not be amended to comply, with the then current safety instructions (ii) since the Safety Principles Instruction was issued RAN had modified its

operations to reduce the extent of hazarding to that level indicated in section 11.2.1 above and was taking steps to further reduce the extent of hazarding (iii) until 1977 Snapper Island, and until the introduction of the Safety Principles Instruction in 1981 Spectacle Island, were not considered by RAN for the

purpose of calculating safety distances for explosive ordnance operations around Spectacle Island (iv) when the options to reduce the hazard by vacating Spectacle Island and the adjacent Snapper Island were identified RAN did not act promptly to imple­

ment them

(v) RAN has been pursuing the establishment of an armament depot at Jervis Bay since the 1970s as the only viable solution to the problems associated with operations in Sydney Harbour (vi) although the Safety Principles and Waivers Instructions were introduced in

May 1981 and September 1984 respectively, the first draft Public Risk Waiver submission for RAN operations in Sydney was not sent to the Chief of Supply until November 1985 (vii) the processing of other Public Risk Waiver submissions was delayed deliber­

ately within Supply Division in order that one of the RAN Sydney requests would be the first to go to the Minister, and

36

A m m u n itio n barge s a lo n g s id e N e w in g to n W h a rf.

(viii) by the end of October 1987 there had still not been a request for Public Risk Waivers submitted to the Minister for consideration.

11.2.3 Audit noted that as at the end of 1986, more than five and a half years after the introduction of the Safety Principles Instruction and more than two years after the introduction of the Waivers Instruction, substantial non-compliance with the safety principles continued and the required ministerial approval of waivers had not been sought.

11.2.4 Audit observed that the Waivers Instruction provided that submissions requesting waivers include details of remedial action proposed or being taken. As outlined in section 4, Audit considers that, in the absence of provision for interim waivers, this requirement must lead either to the cessation of essential operations

or to the breach of departmental instructions. This results in loss of management control with operations continuing for an extended period while possible solutions are devised and considered.

11.2.5 In the case of RAN Sydney Harbour operations, the non-compliant activi­ ties have continued for several years, without the approval required under the Defence Instruction, while remedial action was devised and in part conducted. Indeed it was stated by RAN that operations would be amended before the waiver was requested in order to reduce the extent of waiver required.

11.2.6 Audit recommends that, notwithstanding any actions to amend the Waivers Instruction to provide for interim approvals, the Department act forthwith to bring the RAN Sydney Harbour operations within the provisions of the Safety Principles and Waivers Instructions (Recommendation No. 21).

37

Exhibit 2(a) Spectacle Island moorings — former situation

WOOLWICH

Oil tanl

Prescribed safety distance arc

Pulpit PT

P A R R A M A T T A R I V E R

C O C K A T O O I S L A N D

DRUMMOYNE

S N A P P E R I S L A N D

Birkenhead PT Sommerville PT

Key δ buoys

38

Exhibit 2(b) Spectacle Island moorings — current situation

WOOLWICH

Oil tanks <£·

Pulpit PT

Prescribed safety distance arc

PARRAMATTA RIVER

COCKATOO \lSLAND 'SPECTACLE - Λ ISLAND

DRUMMOYNE

Birkenhead PT

Sommerville PT

Key δ buoys fixed piles

39

Exhibit 3(a) Man-of-War Anchorage — former situation

'Karraba Pt

ATHOL BAY

Wudyong Pt

Robertsons Pt

Athol No. 6

Prescribed safety distance arc — major facilities

'Bradleys Head

Kirribilli Pt

Fort Denison

Prescribed safety distance arc — inhabited buildings

Mrs Macquaries Pt Λ No. 2 A No. 3 rGARDEN ISLAND/

Point Piper No / Man-of-War Anchorage

[Clark Island

A No. 5

Piper No. 2

WOOLOOMOOLOO BAY /

A No. 7

δ Ε M S.

POINT PIPER

POTTS POINT

DOUBLE BAY

ELIZABETH BAY Blackburn Cove

DARLING POINT

RUSHCUTTERS BAY

Elizabeth Pt

Mac lea y Pt

40

Exhibit 3(b) Man-of-War Anchorage — current situation

Karraba Pt ATHOL BAY

'Wudyong Pt

Robertsons Pt

Δ Athol No. 6

Prescribed safety distance arc

— major facilities w

Bradleys Head

Kirribilli Pt

Fort Denison

Mrs Macquaries Pt

FARM COVE

Man-of-War Anchorage Point Piper No. /

Clark Island

Δ No. 5

Δ No. 7 OOLOO δ E M S.

POINT PIPER

POTTS POINT

DOUBLE BAY

ELIZABETH BAY

Blackburn Cove

DARLING POINT

RUSHCUTTERS BAY

Elizabeth Pt

Macleay Pt

-- hpe'r No. 2

WOOLOi BAY J

41

Commonwealth property boundary

11.2.7 In November 1987 the Department advised that actions taken following recent reviews had further reduced the extent of hazarding to that indicated in Exhibits 2 (b), 3 (b) and 4. The Department stated that the delay in processing the RAN Public Risk Waiver was the result of numerous comprehensive reviews of the

options available to remove the non-compliant aspects of Navy’s explosives opera­ tions in Sydney Harbour and that it considered it extremely doubtful that the earlier iterations of the Public Risk Waiver submission would have convinced the Minister of his need to approve the then current arrangements. The Department

added that in the review period, all reasonable safety practices were adopted in order to lessen the risk and effects of accidental detonation so that the position has now been reached whereby no residential areas around Sydney Harbour will be hazarded. The Department also pointed out that the Minister had been briefed as

early as March 1984 on the requirement for a Public Risk Waiver for Sydney Harbour.

11.2.8 Concerning the above comment by the Department that:

'. . . no residential areas around Sydney Harbour will be hazarded . . .’ (emphasis added), the Department did not provide details of when this situation was expected to be achieved. Audit notes that the Department’s comment does not address the issue of

non-residential areas, including high-use public waterways and a shopping complex.

11.2.9 The advice from the Department also stated that actions by Navy to vacate Snapper Island were not as tardy as Audit suggests and that until the adoption of the NATO Safety Principles, Snapper Island was not hazarded (i.e. not hazarded under the previous safety rules). The Department added that in May 1984, a study

of the whole Sydney Harbour issue commenced and the subsequent report recom­ mended termination of the lease to the island. Since then, Navy has been endea­ vouring to find alternative premises that it can offer to tenants and also to terminate the lease. A ‘notice to quit’ has been served but is being contested in the NSW

courts. Similarly, the Naval Reserve Cadets were not relocated from Spectacle Island until suitable alternative premises were available.

11.2.10 Audit notes that the departmental comment does not acknowledge:

• that Navy recognised in 1981 that unless public access to Snapper Island was strictly controlled the separation distances required under the NATO Principles would severely restrict the high explosive storage capacity around Spectacle Island • in February 1985 the lessees of Snapper Island were granted a concessional rental

notwithstanding that the study of the whole Sydney Harbour issue had recom­ mended termination of the lease, and • the report recommending the termination of the lease was completed at the end of 1984; however, the notice to quit was not served until mid-1987.

11.2.11 In Audit’s view the continuation of RAN operations in Sydney Harbour (notwithstanding the rather generalised reference to problems in Sydney in a briefing given to the Minister), is a serious breach of the Department’s own Instructions. The Waivers Instruction was approved by the Minister and it is reasonable to conclude that by its actions the Department has not done all within its power to abide by the directions of the Minister. Audit considers that RAN operations within

Sydney Harbour should either have ceased or a submission seeking waivers should have been sent to the Minister in 1984.

11.2.12 In regard to the departmental comment that the Minister had been briefed as early as March 1984 on the requirement for a Public Risk Waiver for Sydney

43

Harbour, Audit noted that such briefings were general in nature and could not be said to convey fully the extent of hazarding in Sydney Harbour and therefore the level of risk to the public that the Minister was accepting responsibility for, albeit in a de facto fashion. The advice provided to the Minister in 1984 did not indicate

that submissions would not be made to him for an extensive period, which in the event, was almost four years (see section 11.2.14).

11.2.13 The Department’s Waivers Instruction and associated procedures were designed to cover non-compliant situations until they could be rectified. In the case of Sydney Harbour the Department has adopted a novel approach of formulating and implementing the necessary rectification or modification to its operations before

it sought Waivers, in order to reduce the extent of Waivers required. Had an accident occurred since 1983 or should an accident occur before the eventual submission and approval of the Waivers required, considerable administrative and legal complexities almost certainly would have arisen or will arise regarding respon­

sibility for the consequences of the incident. Additionally, this approach denied and denies the Minister options based on not implementing the specific interim measures chosen by the Department.

11.2.14 In February 1988 the Department advised that at the time of providing its comments at section 11.2.8, no residential areas of Sydney fell within hazard zones. The Department also advised that the Public Risk Waiver submission in respect of RAN Sydney Harbour operations was sent to the Minister in mid-

February 1988. Audit noted that a feature of the submission was the proposed retention of most of the RAN ammunitioning facilities and capabilities for Sydney Harbour and Newington, an apparent reversal of the Department’s earlier plans when it provided justification for its requirements for the Jervis Bay Armament

Depot.

45

12. RAAF BASES

12.1 Background

12.1.1 Explosive ordnance is held at RAAF bases in Australia and at Butterworth, Malaysia. When required for training exercises explosive ordnance is transported from the Central Ammunition Depot at Kingswood in New South Wales to the bases. Audit reviewed Defence Central and Air Force Office records concerning action taken by the Department to ensure compliance with the Safety Principles and Waivers Instructions at several RAAF bases.

12.2 Amberley

12.2.1 In November 1983, RAAF submitted requests for Public Risk Waivers to the Chief of Supply for RAAF base, Amberley, Queensland. Alleviation of the need for waivers at Amberley was proposed to be achieved by the acquisition of certain parcels of land. Temporary restriction or modification of explosive ordnance oper­ ations was planned to minimise the extent of hazarding until the land could be acquired.

12.2.2 A Supply Division report, dated July 1985, on the status of waiver appli­ cations, recorded that a submission regarding Amberley had been received in November 1983 but had not been processed.

12.2.3 This lack of progress occurred despite prompt responses from RAAF to two requests from Supply Division for updates and confirmation of RAAF Public Risk Waiver submissions, including Amberley, during the intervening twenty months.

12.2.4 As at the end of 1986, however, information requested from RAAF by Supply Division in April 1986 was outstanding. The information concerned action taken on and the proposed timing of land acquisitions necessary for the removal of proposed waivers.

12.2.5 The Public Risk Waiver submission advised, under the heading of ‘Alter­ natives to Waiver’, that there were no alternative proposals and that if the required waiver was not forthcoming, explosives ordnance storage and operations must cease. Audit noted that this statement did not advise what adverse effects, if any, ceasing the storage and operations would entail. There was no record of clarification of this point being obtained by Supply Division.

Developments subsequent to completion o f audit field work

12.2.6 In April 1987 the Chief of Supply approved a Public Risk Waiver for one of the two problem areas at Amberley. Matters of continuing concern to Audit regarding the situation at Amberley are:

• three-and-a-half years elapsed between the initial submission to the Chief of Supply regarding the inability to comply with the Safety Principles and the issue of a waiver for some of the activities that represented an excessive hazard to the public

• departmental records indicate action had not been taken to resolve the previously reported non-compliance with respect to the second problem area • reference to the second problem area in the memorandum advising of the approval of a waiver for the first problem area erroneously described the land concerned

as ‘farming land with no exposed sites’: which would mean that a Public Risk Waiver could be granted by the Chief of Supply, whereas in fact the area also

46

included a minor public road and therefore any Public Risk Waiver would require ministerial approval, and • there was no evidence to indicate that operations at Amberley which contravened the Safety Principles Instruction had been curtailed pending consideration of

waivers under the Waivers Instruction.

12.3 Butterworth

12.3.1 RAAF operations at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base, Butterworth, were not included in lists of likely Public Risk Waiver situations provided by RAAF to Supply Division before the introduction of the Waivers Instruction. These Australian operations in Malaysian territory were therefore not included in the list

of likely Public Risk Waiver situations provided to the Minister in March 1984 (see section 4.1.8).

12.3.2 A request for a Public Risk Waiver was not submitted to Supply Division by RAAF until June 1985, nor was there evidence of any earlier advice that a submission was pending. This occurred although Headquarters RAAF, Air Base Butterworth, had requested a waiver from the Malaysian Ministry of Defence in

February 1984. The reasons for the 15 month lag between RAAF requesting a waiver from Malaysian authorities and advising Supply Division of the problems were not evident from departmental files. Audit observed that:

• the submission of June 1985 advised that RAAF high explosive bombing opera­ tions at Butterworth, which were described as essential to maintain the proficiency required of RAAF personnel, had been suspended. However, by the end of 1986 the request, which RAAF had advised was its top priority, had not been accepted

or rejected by the Chief of Supply or referred to the Minister • the non-compliance of RAAF missile and bomb operations with the safety principles adopted in May 1981 was not identified by RAAF Butterworth for almost three years

• as at the end of 1986 there was no evidence that the Minister had been advised of the Butterworth situation, and • as at the end of 1986, RAAF non-compliant operations continued to be under­ taken, contrary to Defence Instructions.

Developments following completion o f audit field work

12.3.3 A submission was sent to the Minister on 30 July 1987 seeking approval of a Public Risk Waiver in time for RAAF to conduct a bombing exercise commencing on 3 August 1987. The submission, which was the first Public Risk Waiver submission sent to the Minister, was approved on 4 August 1987. These events and

Audit comments relating to the submission are covered at section 5.4.

12.4 Edinburgh

12.4.1 RAAF advised the Chief of Supply in November 1983 that an agreement with the Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, which occupied adjoining land, was required for the continued use of two RAAF buildings for storage of explosive ordnance. The buildings were located close to the common boundary and, when

used to store the most dangerous category of explosives, hazarded an area of the Research Centre’s land. The area was described by RAAF as vacant land used for

47

agistment purposes which contained a shearing shed that was not likely to be used. Further, the advice stated that if the shearing shed was used, such use would be restricted. 12.4.2 In regard to 'Alternatives to Agreement’, the submission stated that there were no alternative proposals and that if the proposal could not be agreed, the two buildings would not be used for the storage of explosive ordnance. Other RAAF records, however, indicated the proposed use of the buildings could have been avoided without detriment to operations at the base.

12.4.3 Reasons recorded for RAAF having submitted the proposal without refer­ ence to alternatives which would avoid the use of the buildings were:

• to give RAAF Headquarters Operational Command and the Edinburgh base a wider range of options • to set a precedent for intra-departmental action and thus the mechanism for the future, and • that no explosive ordnance, even of a less hazardous category, could be held in

the buildings without such an agreement.

12.4.4 In Audit’s view the submission to the Chief of Supply, who was responsible for finding a solution, was both incomplete and misleading.

12.4.5 In May 1985, some eighteen months after the date of the submission, the Chief of Supply determined that the intrusion of the quantity distances over Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, property did not contravene the Safety Principles Instruction. The reasons given for the determination were that the land was departmental as opposed to public property and that the shearing shed sited thereon did not constitute an exposed site.

12.5 Richmond

12.5.1 In November 1983, RAAF requested the Chief of Supply to authorise a Public Risk Waiver to permit loading and unloading of aircraft transporting explo­ sive ordnance at RAAF base Richmond.

12.5.2 The request stated that a waiver was required as the inhabited building distance extended beyond the Commonwealth property boundary. Facilities located within the inhabited building distance, but outside the Commonwealth property boundary, included residential housing, a main highway with high traffic density and a cemetery.

12.5.3 In its submission RAAF indicated that there were no alternative proposals to the waiver and, if the waiver was not forthcoming, the movement of explosive ordnance through RAAF base Richmond must cease.

12.5.4 In December 1983, as the Waivers Instruction had not yet been issued, the Chief of Air Staff granted interim approval for RAAF explosive ordnance opera­ tions not complying with the Safety Principles Instruction, to continue until Decem­ ber 1984 or the issue of the Waivers Instruction, whichever occurred first. This approval covered the situation at RAAF base Richmond.

12.5.5 Supply Division requested further information from RAAF in June 1985 on Public Risk Waiver submissions for various bases, including Richmond. This information was provided later in that month. A Supply Division report of July 1985 on the status of waiver applications, indicated that the Richmond application had been received in November 1983 but had yet to be processed.

12.5.6 Audit noted that, as at the end of 1986, Supply Division had not sought ministerial approval of the Public Risk Waivers for RAAF base Richmond.

48

12.5.7 Audit observed that there was continued use of RAAF base Richmond for operations which the Department believed did not comply with the Safety Principles Instruction. Audit also observed that there was a considerable delay in reaching a decision regarding the issue of a Public Risk Waiver, having regard to the fact that

a request was first submitted in 1983.

Developments following completion o f audit field work

12.5.8 In March 1987 the Chief of Supply determined that the main operations conducted at Richmond were simple transportation and associated loading and unloading activities and therefore consideration of outside quantity distances and the issue of waivers was not relevant. The memorandum advising RAAF of the determination sought advice which would enable a decision to be made regarding other explosives operations, if any, conducted at the base. Audit noted that a

response to that request had not been received by the end of December 1987.

12.5.9 Notwithstanding that it was subsequently determined that the primary operations at Richmond did not contravene the Safety Principles Instruction, Audit notes that the operations were conducted for several years in the belief that they contravened the Instruction. Similarly, Audit notes that it took the Department

over three years to determine whether the primary operations contravened the Safety Principles Instruction.

12.6 Williamtown

12.6.1 In October 1983, RAAF advised the Chief of Supply that it had examined explosive ordnance facilities at RAAF base Williamtown, and determined that the inhabited building distance extended beyond the Commonwealth property boundary. As the adjoining land was a Hunter District Water Board catchment area, under

the provisions of the Safety Principles Instruction an agreement between the Department of Defence and the Hunter District Water Board was required.

12.6.2 Upon introduction of the Waivers Instruction in September 1984, a Public Risk Waiver was required for the above situation.

12.6.3 In its advice RAAF indicated that no alternative proposals were available. It stated that if agreement to continuation of operations of the explosive ordnance facilities could not be reached, explosive ordnance operations must cease and the construction of new explosive ordnance facilities being undertaken at the time could

not proceed. The December 1983 interim approval from the Chief of Air Staff for continuation of non-compliant operations, referred to in section 12.5.4, also covered RAAF base Richmond.

12.6.4 A Supply Division report dated July 1985, on the status of waiver applica­ tions, indicated that the application had been received in October 1983. Further, the report indicated that in November 1983 the Defence Facilities Division had been asked to commence the negotiation of safeguarding agreements with the

Hunter District Water Board. It also indicated that a waiver approved by the Chief of Supply was appropriate and ministerial involvement was unlikely. Audit noted that more than four years later, at the time of preparation of this report, a formal agreement had not been entered into with the Hunter District Water Board.

12.6.5 When preparing licences for explosive storage facilities at Williamtown in early 1986, RAAF had difficulty in determining whether a Public Risk Waiver was necessary. Advice to RAAF from Supply Division indicated that a Public Risk Waiver was not required where the inhabited building distance was outside the

49

C irca 1929 s to r a g e fa c ility .

■

1

: a - ' j 1

C . v : ^ ; ί £

' .

τ — pg—

. · ^

" ; * N t * _ ' ' s *" ' j . ;

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50

Commonwealth property boundary and it was most unlikely that structures or facilities would be built there. Audit noted that such advice was contrary to the provisions of the Waivers Instruction.

12.6.6 In April 1986 Supply Division requested additional information from RAAF and this information was provided in May 1986. Public Risk Waivers were approved by the Chief of Supply four months later, in September 1986. However, there was no evidence, as at mid-1987, that the Minister had been advised of the waivers in accordance with the Waivers Instruction.

12.6.7 Audit is concerned at:

• the length of time taken to resolve the need for the waivers—almost three years • incorrect advice given to RAAF that a Public Risk Waiver was not necessary if the land outside the Commonwealth property boundary but within the inhabited building distance, was unlikely to be developed, and

• the continuation of explosive ordnance operations without a waiver between the time the Waivers Instruction was issued, in September 1984, and the issue of the Public Risk Waivers in September 1986.

12.6.8 Audit observed that RAAF had identified a peacetime requirement for seven sites for loading aircraft with significant quantities of explosive ordnance at RAAF base Williamtown. At the time of the audit only four aircraft could be loaded with explosive ordnance at any one time, because of inadequate separation

distances.

12.6.9 Audit noted the inability of the facilities to satisfy RAAF’s identified peacetime requirements, but recognises that the current works program for William­ town includes construction of new loading facilities (see sections 12.7.1 to 12.7.3).

Developments following completion o f audit field work

12.6.10 Advice of the issue of a Public Risk Waiver for Williamtown was included in an attachment to the request for ministerial approval of a waiver for operations at Butterworth, Malaysia. As mentioned in section 5.4.4, the Minister was not advised of the approval of the waiver for some ten months.

12.7 Audit comment

12.7.1 Audit considers that the need for numerous waivers, referred to above, highlights deficiencies in the storage, preparation and loading capabilities for explo­ sive ordnance at major RAAF bases. At Williamtown, for example, no explosive ordnance of the most hazardous category could presently be held if the Safety

Principles Instruction were strictly applied. These deficiencies are intended to be resolved by means of a program of new facility construction and, in some cases, the development of alternative facilities. 12.7.2 The construction program has already commenced, for example, at William­

town, where four igloo-type storage facilities, associated explosive ordnance prepa­ ration areas and revised aircraft loading facilities are under construction at an estimated cost of $5.4m. This construction is part of a program to upgrade explosive ordnance facilities at nine RAAF bases. The total cost of the program was estimated

in 1985 at $49m.

12.7.3 Audit noted that as the building program will not be completed until at least 1992, waivers will be necessary to enable operations to continue at bases for at least five years.

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13. COSTS OF IMPLEMENTING THE DEPARTMENT’S SAFETY PRINCIPLES FOR EXPLOSIVES

13.1 Cost of implementation

13.1.1 As stated in section 3.1.1, the Department of Defence formally adopted the UN Classification System and NATO Principles in respect of its explosives-related activities in May 1981. At that time the Department did not perform any specific costing operations to determine the additional costs involved in adopting the new safety principles or revised standards for explosives. Although there is no clear record of the event, Audit has been advised by the Department and also concludes from its own observations, that the costs involved in implementing the new safety principles for explosives were considered by the Department at the time to be negligible.

13.1.2 As is clear from details provided elsewhere in this report, the actual costs involved in order to bring the Department’s explosives operations into line with its safety principles are in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. The RAN Armament Depot proposed for Jervis Bay, for example, is estimated to cost in excess of $163m. (However, as noted at section 11.2.2(i), a requirement for the

new depot was identified prior to the adoption of the NATO Principles as RAN Sydney Harbour operations did not comply with the previous safety principles either).

13.1.3 In attempting to ascertain why the Department adopted the revised safety principles without quantifying the associated resource implications, Audit found that the view within the Department was that the revised principles were not significantly different to the then current safety principles and the conclusion

reached by the Department was therefore that the additional resources required would be minimal. However, it appears that departmental management was not fully aware of the significant lack of compliance with its then current safety principles i.e. considerable resources would have been necessary to bring the De­ partment’s operations within its existing (pre-NATO) safety standards. Indeed, in

December 1980 the then Chief of the Defence Force Staff was advised by the then Chief of Supply and Support, in a submission recommending the adoption of the NATO Principles that ‘the resource consequences of adopting the . . . latest prescriptions (NATO Principles) . . . are not large’. The submission stated that the effects likely to result from the introduction of the NATO Principles were:

(a) for RAN, certain naval shell ammunition could no longer be stored at Newington and would need to be relocated to the Naval Ammunition Depot at Kingswood (b) for Army:

• the proposed route for the Georges River Parkway Road would affect the holding capacity of four explosives storehouses at 21 Supply Battalion, Moorebank and local action would be initiated with the relevant NSW authority to negotiate a re-alignment of the road, and • the use of special screening traverses (earth mounds) would enable Ashgrove,

Queensland, to continue to hold the most hazardous category of high explosives and thereby continue to perform its alloted role (c) for RAAF:

• the relocation of stocks between explosives storehouses at the depot at Kingswood would enable compliance with the new requirements, and

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• in the case of small depots which have insufficient explosives storehouses to permit relocation of stocks it may not be possible to improve the level of protection afforded to explosives contents to above the levels provided for under the then existing system (implying some new works may be required).

13.1.4 The lack of awareness at senior management levels of the extent of non­ compliance arose from the structure of the Department’s then existing safety principles and procedures for obtaining exemptions or waivers. Before the revised safety principles were introduced, waivers could be approved at relatively lower

levels within the Services and advice of the granting of a waiver was not required to be sent to senior management or any co-ordinating authority. Hence, the substantial non-compliance with safety principles existing throughout the Depart­ ment was not brought to the attention of senior management.

13.1.5 Audit concluded that the substantial delays in meeting the timetable for implementation of the NATO Principles set out in the Safety Principles Instruction, referred to at section 3.3.2 and section 5 of this report, were due, at least in part, to the over-optimistic timetable proposed in the absence of full knowledge of the

extent of non-compliance existing within the Department.

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14 SUMMARY OF AUDIT FINDINGS

General findings

• unclear wording of the Safety Principles Instruction resulted in inconsistent interpretations regarding the compatibility of explosives and the applicability of the Instruction to certain elements of the Department (sections 3.4.1, 3.5.1)

• as at the end of 1986, no Public Risk Waivers had been approved although a number of likely Public Risk Waiver situations had been identified before the Waivers Instruction was introduced in September 1984 (sections 5.2.2, 5.2.3) Consequently:

- most non-compliant activities had continued - public and non-defence property was subject to a greater risk than allowed by departmental safety principles, and - in order to continue activities considered essential, Service personnel were

obliged to authorise and undertake essential explosives operations which contravened departmental instructions (sections 5.2.2 to 5.2.4) • many applications for waivers did not provide the approving authority with adequate advice regarding the detrimental effects of not granting a waiver com­

pared to the benefits of continued operation (sections 5.2.9, 5.2.10) • no centralised record of Departmental Risk Waivers was held, and Departmental Risk Waivers issued by RAAF had not been sent to the Chief of Supply (sections 5.3.1, 5.3.2), and • for the seven Public Risk Waivers approved by the Chief of Supply, it was an

average of ten months between granting of the approval and notice of that approval being sent to the Minister (section 5.4.4).

Approval by Government

• Government endorsement of the safeguarding principles adopted by the Depart­ ment was not sought (section 6.1.2)

Safeguarding

• at the end of the three-year period to 1986, no final safeguarding maps had been produced by DOLGAS although DOLGAS had undertaken in 1983 to produce 42 maps from data provided by the Department of Defence. In the event, data for only 14 maps was provided (section 7.2.1) • Audit found that there were a number of practices employed in preparing the

maps which may:

- render them obsolete by the time they are completed - absorb considerable resources in keeping them current - diminish their value to non-defence users, and - lead to the waste of community resources (sections 7.2.2 to 7.2.6), and • Audit noted a lack of evidence of departmental attempts to gain the maximum

benefit from the production of safeguarding maps (section 7.2.8).

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Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)

• Materials Research Laboratories (MRL): in late 1983 MRL considered it was complying with the ‘spirit’ of the NATO Safety Principles, therefore not requiring any waivers, although if the ‘letter’ of the Safety Principles Instruction was applied only three of its 34 locations would satisfy the requirements (section 8.2.2)

• Defence Research Centre, Salisbury (DRCS) : a delay of a number of years occurred in the introduction of a licensing system (formal approval of the maximum quantity of explosives that can be stored and processed at a particular facility) (section 8.3.1), and • Internal Quantity Distances : Audit found that MRL and DRCS had not ad­

dressed the issue of internal quantity distances and were therefore not in a position to seek waivers to authorise continuance of non-compliant operations (section 8.4.1).

Office of Defence Production (ODP)

• ODP was not complying with the Safety Principles Instruction in that several facilities were known not to comply with the Instruction but no application for Public Risk Waivers or advice of the issue of Departmental Risk Waivers had been submitted (sections 9.2.2 to 9.2.4) • Operational Safety Committee (Explosives) : Audit found there was some uncer­

tainty as to the status of the Committee, which ceased performing safety audits some years ago. Facilities therefore were not subject to independent checks of compliance with related safety procedures but some safety audits were resumed in early 1987 (sections 9.3.1, 9.3.2) • Maribyrnong: In May 1984 it was agreed to establish a working group to enable

co-ordination of the activities of the three establishments (ODP, DSTO and Army) at Maribyrnong, but at the time of preparation of this report there was no evidence of any progress towards this objective (section 10.2.1), • lack of co-ordination was evidenced by the continued use by the Army Engineering

Development Establishment of a general engineering workshop, which presented an occupational health and safety hazard to personnel. Proposals for the replace­ ment of the building were unsuccessful because of objections from the Explosives

Factory about the proposed new site for the facility (sections 10.2.2, 10.2.3), and • some land at Maribyrnong was released to the public before problems of quantity distance constraints were resolved and before completion of master planning (sections 10.2.4, 10.2.5).

RAN Sydney operations

• departmental records disclosed that operations at the RAN Armament Depot, Newington, and Spectacle Island and the Man-of-War anchorages in Sydney, did not comply with the Safety Principles Instruction in regard to the separation of potential explosion sites from the civilian facilities and waterways which could be

affected by an explosion (section 11.2.1) • a delay was imposed deliberately upon the processing of other Public Risk Waiver submissions within the Supply Division in order that one of the RAN Sydney requests would be the first to go to the Minister (section 11.2.2), and

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• as at the end of 1986, substantial non-compliance with the Safety Principles Instruction continued and the required ministerial approval of Public Risk Waivers had not been sought (section 11.2.3).

RAAF bases Amberley

• three-and-a-half years had elapsed between the initial waiver submission to the Chief of Supply and the issue of a Public Risk Waiver for one of two identified problem areas (section 12.2.6) • departmental records indicated that action had not been taken to resolve the

previously reported non-compliance regarding a second problem area (section 12.2.6), and

• no evidence was found that operations contravening the Safety Principles Instruc­ tion had been curtailed pending approval of the waiver or resolution of the need for and approval of a waiver for the second problem area (section 12.2.6).

Butterworth

• the lack of compliance of RAAF operations at Butterworth, Malaysia, was not identified until some three years after the introduction of the Safety Principles Instruction (section 12.3.2) • the first advice to the Chief of Supply regarding the lack of compliance of RAAF

operations at Butterworth was submitted in June 1985, more than four years after the introduction of the Safety Principles Instruction (section 12.3.2) • the submission to the Chief of Supply was sent some 15 months after a submission on the same topic was sent to Malaysian authorities (section 12.3.2), and • as at the end of 1986, RAAF non-compliant operations continued to be under­

taken contrary to Defence Instructions (section 12.3.2).

Edinburgh

• Audit considers the waiver submission to the Chief of Supply was both incomplete and misleading (section 12.4.2 to 12.4.4).

Richmond

• over three years passed before the Department had determined whether the primary operations contravened the Safety Principles Instruction and during that time operations which were believed to be non-compliant continued without a waiver (section 12.5.9).

Williamtown

• the length of time taken to resolve waivers (three years) was considered excessive (sections 12.6.6, 12.6.7) • incorrect advice was given to RAAF by the Supply Division in regard to the necessity for a Public Risk Waiver (section 12.6.5), and • explosive ordnance operations continued between the time the Waivers Instruction

was issued in September 1984 and the time the Public Risk Waivers were approved in September 1986 (section 12.6.7).

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The need for waivers highlights deficiencies in storage, preparation and loading capabilities for explosive ordnance at major RAAF bases (section 12.7.1).

Cost of implementing the Department’s safety principles for explosives

• the additional costs involved in implementing the new safety principles for explosives adopted by the Department in 1981 were not ascertained at that time. Departmental management considered the extra costs involved would be minimal. The actual costs, however, have still not been quantified but are in the order of

hundreds of millions of dollars (section 13.1), and • departmental management was not fully aware of the extent of non-compliance with the previous safety prescriptions and therefore not cognisant of the variance between existing operations and the new safety principles (section 13.1.3).

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15. SUMMARY OF AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS AND DEPARTMENTAL RESPONSES

Recommendation Response

1. To accord with the Ombudsman’s rec­ ommendation which it had accepted, the Department ensure that where any outside quantity distances extend beyond the Com­ monwealth property boundary, affected landholders are appropriately notified and special agreements made, (section 3.2.4)

2. Priority be given to the formal adoption by the Department of compatibility mixing rules for explosives, based on the UN Sys­ tem. (section 3.5.5)

3. Departmental instructions be revised to clarify the reference in the Safety Principles Instruction to ‘. . . other clearly de­

monstrable specific conditions’ and the au­ thority responsible for determining whether they apply, (section 4.2.3)

4. Departmental instructions be revised to provide for verification of adherence to de­ partmental instructions for the storage and processing of explosives by a body inde­ pendent of the management responsible for conducting the explosives operations, (sec­ tion 4.2.3)

5. Departmental instructions be revised to clarify the applicability of the instructions to all ammunition and explosives held by the Department (section 4.2.3)

6. Departmental instructions be revised to require prompt reporting of non-compliant situations when identified, (section 4.2.3)

7. Departmental instructions be revised to provide a means for the controlled contin­ uation of non-compliant activities while proposals for waivers and remedial action are prepared and considered, so that per­ sonnel are not put in the position of having

little or no choice but to continue opera­ tions which are non-compliant. (section 4.2.3)

8. Pending revision of the Waivers Instruc­ tion, the Department forthwith bring non- compliant operations within the provisions of the Waivers Instruction, either by cessa­ tion of the identified non-compliant opera­ tions or by issue of waivers, (section 4.2.5)

Accepted. Being incorporated in a rewrite of the appropriate Defence Instruction.

Accepted. Being actioned.

Accepted. As for Recommendation 1.

Accepted. As for Recommendation 1.

Accepted. As for Recommendation 1.

Accepted. As for Recommendation 1.

Accepted. As for Recommendation 1.

Not accepted at this stage—subject to legal advice.

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Recommendation Response

9. Prompt action be taken to expedite the consideration of outstanding Public Risk Waiver requests at the Chief of Supply or ministerial level as appropriate, (section

5.2.5)

10. Action be taken to ensure that any

future instances requiring Public Risk Waivers are processed in a timely manner, (section 5.2.5)

11. Future waiver submissions provide comprehensive details of alternative propos­ als and of the effects on operations that would result if a waiver was not granted,

(section 5.2.11)

12. Copies of all Departmental Risk Waiv­ ers be sent to a central body, as required under the Defence Instructions, and be compiled to form a centralised record pro­

viding an awareness of the overall situation in the Department, (section 5.3.2)

13. Approval be sought from the Govern­ ment for the acceptance of the level of risk to the public which is inherent in the Safety Principles Instruction, (section 6.1.3)

14. The Department determine the extent of landholdings and any restrictions on sur­ rounding land use required for the long­ term viability and development of each es­

tablishment. The Department should seek to acquire the landholdings or ensure that the restrictions are enforced, (section 7.2.3)

15. The Department ensure that all facil- ties of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation comply with the Safety Prin­ ciples and Waivers Instructions, (section

8.5.1.)

16. If the desired level of safety in the

event of a fire or explosion can be achieved more cost-effectively through means that do not comply with the safety principles, the Department take action to facilitate the

adoption of such means through amend­ ment of the Instructions, if appropriate, while ensuring the intended level of safety is not compromised, (section 8.5.1)

17. Consideration be given to whether ob­ taining the marginal benefit in improved safety, if any, is the optimal use of the

estimated additional $40m required for the Office of Defence Production operations to achieve strict compliance with the current Instructions, (section 9.2.5)

Noted. At this stage there are no outstand­ ing Public Risk Waivers requiring minister­ ial consideration.

Accepted. As for Recommendation 1.

Accepted. As for Recommendation 1.

Accepted. Being actioned.

Not accepted at this stage—subject to legal advice.

Not a valid recommendation as this aspect is already in practice.

Accepted.

Accepted. This is a matter of risk analysis which requires that the NATO Principles be used as guidelines rather than prescrip­ tions. Being reviewed by the Australian

Ordnance Council.

Accepted. As for Recommendation 16.

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Recommendation Response

18. The status and role of the Operational Safety Committee (Explosives) or a body to replace it be formalised, (section 9.3.3)

Accepted.

19. An increased priority be given to the development of a master plan for the co­ ordination and compatible operation of the D epartm ent’s facilities at Maribyrnong.

(section 10.2.6)

Accepted.

20. The Department not sanction the re­ lease of any further land at Maribyrnong or any other location where there are un­ resolved problems with achieving the sepa­ rations required under the Safety Principles

Instruction, (section 10.2.6)

Accepted.

21. Notwithstanding any actions to amend the Waivers Instruction to provide for in­ terim approvals, the Department act forth­ with to bring the RAN Sydney Harbour operations within the provisions of the Safety Principles and Waivers Instructions,

(section 11.2.6)

Noted. The Public Risk Waiver application for Sydney Harbour was sent to the Minis­ ter in mid-February 1988.

Priority of Recommendations

The above recommendations are presented in the order they appear throughout the report. The Department has stated that it has already accepted and is actioning many of the recommendations, although it has not indicated its proposed timing for completion of that action. Audit considers that of these, priority should be given to Recommendations 1, 7, and 19, while the other recommendations may be imple­ mented progressively over a reasonable period. Recommendations 8 and 13 were not accepted by the Department at this time, subject to legal advice. Audit considers these recommendations to be of importance and urges the Department to obtain the necessary legal advice forthwith (see section 6.1.6). Audit considers the Depart­ ment’s response to Recommendation 14 is unsupportable and is of the opinion that the Department has failed to adequately address this issue. More detailed Audit comments are included at sections 7.2.3 to 7.2.9.

18 April 1988 Acting Auditor-General

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