Albemarle Bunbury lithium plant receives improvement notice over health and safety concerns

Western Australia’s workplace safety watchdog has taken enforcement action against a mostly US-owned lithium plant in the southwest of the state.

The Department of Mining, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) said it had sent Albemarle a notice of improvement regarding safety issues at a lithium plant in Kemerton, about 150 kilometers south of Perth.

The warning requires Albemarle to install barriers to ensure the safety of workers working adjacent to the plant being commissioned.

The installation is operated and built simultaneously.

It follows a workplace safety investigation launched in early April following multiple complaints from workers and union officials.

Albemarle did not respond to questions for publication, but previously told ABC that safety was the company’s top priority.

An aerial view of an industrial company.  Looks like big brown squares.
The refinery is being operated and built simultaneously and is nearing completion.Delivered: Albemarle

Previously expressed security concerns

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union of WA (AMWU WA) has previously raised concerns about the facility’s safety, describing it as a “21st century facility with a 19th century workplace safety culture”.

A white construction site sign outside the lithium hydroxide plant at Kemerton in Albemarle.
The union has raised several security issues.ABC South West: Jacqueline Lynch

The AMWU WA said several workers were hospitalized as a precaution in early April after being exposed to toxic gases leaking through a vent.

Union Secretary of State Steve McCartney said past problems in the workplace included chemical showers not working and aluminum scaffolding being stored next to a corrosive substance.

He said an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility in January was handled with poor communication.

Posted updated

Leave a Comment