Bushfire threatens Alcoa sites

With bushfire threatening the Willowdale bauxite mine and Waroona and Hamel areas in WA, fire crews are in place to defend the site.

A spokesperson for operator Alcoa said production at Willowdale was shut down last night, with all bar four workers trained in emergency services sent home at midnight.

The four workers were also dismissed today after assembling at Pinjarra, with emergency services left to defend the mine and surrounding area.

Operations have continued Alcoa’s Wagerup alumina refinery while fire crews defend the site.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) received complaints from members onsite at Willowdale who were concerned about the bushfire threat to their own homes and families.

AMWU WA branch secretary Steve McCartney said if the reports were confirmed, Alcoa would be “grossly irresponsible in not prioritising the safety and wellbeing of workers and their families”.

 “On a day where bushfire is threatening the homes of its workforce, we’d be extremely concerned if Alcoa is asking its employees to come to work at a location that is also under threat from the fire,” he said.

A statement from the AMWU said the union understood the usual route used to travel between home and work had been closed.

“We have been told the workforce is effectively having to leave their homes and families to their fate, put themselves at risk by getting on the road, and then work in an unsafe environment.

“The AMWU is advising all members at Alcoa’s Willowdale mine to ignore any management requests to attend work today.”

The spokesperson for Alcoa said claims made by the AMWU were “completely false”, and that there had been no reports of injuries to employees or contractors.

“The welfare of our employees is paramount and everything is being done to ensure employees in the refinery are safe.”

Damage to the Alcoa Farmlands was reported, with the Farmlands offices destroyed and some damage to fencing.

“We are not aware of any livestock loss,” the spokesperson said.

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