Workers trapped on Barrow Island ahead of Cyclone Olwyn

Workers at Chevron’s Gorgon project are being forced to sleep on blow-up mattresses as Cyclone Olwyn hits Barrow Island after not being evacuated early enough.

A source on the island told Australian Mining workers are being forced to sleep on blow up mattresses in hallways and use overcrowded toilet facilities because contract companies left it too late to evacuate.

The source said there are hundreds of extra people on the island, more than it has the facilities to handle, because only half of the accommodation is cyclone proof.

“People are just sort of wandering around,” he said.

“No one has beds or their own rooms.”

This includes people from the floatel Europa, which is not cyclone proof.

The Europa is understood to have sailed to safe water earlier this week.

However the Bibby, another floatel at the island, has been dry docked, with its occupants moved to the main camp.

According to another source close to the matter workers were meant to be evacuated this morning, with eight flights slated to leave, however the runway was already flooded.

“This was due to poor planning,” the anonymous source said.

“We have heard there are up to 1300 people as of this morning, but that figure is in flux as it had reportedly come down, but we aren’t sure yet.”

A spokesperson for Chevron told Australian Mining: "It is expected there will be some inconveniences with any significant weather event, however, Chevron Australia places the highest priority on the health and safety of its employees and contractors and has a rigorous cyclone preparation plan in place on Barrow Island.

"We have purpose-built cyclone-rated accommodation facilities in place at the Gorgon Project on Barrow Island."

Cyclone Olwyn is expected to reach Category Three strength with destructive 170km/h winds when it hits Barrow Island later tonight.

Workers on the island are already reporting heavy wind and rain.

Chevron and contractor Toll have both been contacted for comment.

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