Port Waratah Coal protestors actions dangerous and unsafe, judge says

Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) has said it has highlighted the unacceptable safety risks taken by protestors trespassing on its sites.

This announcement comes after PWCS lost its compensation case against the Rising Tide activists who broke into its operations last September.

In delivering her judgment in Newcastle Local Court yesterday, magistrate Elaine Truscott said anyone that did not consider the actions of the protestors to be dangerous was “ignorant and arrogant.”

She went on to say that Port Waratah has been genuine in its desire to warn the protestors and prevent serious injuries or fatalities.

Truscott also sent a warning to the activists that PWCS can initiate future compensation claims if there are more protests and its safety warnings are not heeded.

The Newcastle port undertook a compensation claim against the activists to change environmental protester behaviour in the future.

PWCS general manager Graham Davidson has previously stated that it was never about winning or losing the claim, but about protecting lives and that “we tried to create a financial deterrent against reckless activities.”

One of the protestors, Carly Phillips, labelled the court action unfair and “corporate bullying.”

Davidson said that “Rising Tide clearly engaged in criminal activity by setting out to interfere with PWCS’ operations. We appreciate that the court has now put Rising Tide on notice that its activities are highly dangerous not only to protestors but to PWCS workers and police.”

During the protests, Rising Tide protestors interfered with the coal loader emergency control in the early morning, before climbing and attaching them to the coal loaders as well as the large luffing cables.

When a PWCS worker used the manual controls to restart one of the loaders, protestors who were attached to the cables were dragged towards steel sheeves at the apex of the loader.

Davidson said “it is high likely that these protestors would have either been crushed or fallen to their deaths if their shouts weren’t heard by the worker, who managed to shut the machine down in time.

“During other site invasions, these activists have fastened themselves to large coal stacking infrastructure and even chained their necks to conveyor belts.

“Most of the equipment at PWCS is automated, remotely operated and fast moving; meaning the chances of horrific injury or death in a split second is extremely high.

The PWCS general manager said that he has tried on a number of occasions to warn Rising Tide activists of the risks they were taking but has been repeatedly ignored.

“It’s hard to comprehend their spin that they have a ‘perfect safety record’. Dangling 60 metres from a moveable coal loader and chaining your neck to a conveyor belt is reckless and no training undertaken by occasional protestors can make their activities safe.”

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