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Australia's safety unit says it plans to inspect Chevron's Gorgon LNG plant soon

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chevron (CVX) is seen in Los Angeles, California, United States, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

MELBOURNE/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Australia’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) said on Thursday it plans to inspect Chevron’s Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant “as soon as possible” following calls by a trade union to shut the plant.

“The Department ... is aware Chevron Australia discovered issues with propane kettles at its Gorgon LNG plant during routine maintenance and understands the company is investigating,” the department’s Director Dangerous Goods and Petroleum Safety Steve Emery said in a statement.

“While DMIRS does not have any immediate concerns for worker safety, the department is taking the matter seriously and is in discussion with Chevron about the findings from its maintenance inspections and the assessment of the results to date.”

“The department will conduct a joint ... inspection of the LNG plant as soon as possible.”

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has called for Chevron to shut down the Gorgon plant for immediate safety inspections by the government regulator, and for a report to be made public, it said in a statement on July 20.

Cracks up to 1 metre long and 30 millimetres deep on between eight and 11 kettles on Train 2 have been discovered by the non-destructive testing team, AMWU said.

“If multiple kettles are showing cracks in testing on Train 2, there is a high risk there are cracks in the vessels on other trains” and these would need to be replaced immediately, said Steve McCartney, AMWU’s state secretary.

“Chevron needs to put workers’ safety first, and shut down for an independent investigation. If something goes wrong it would be catastrophic.”

Chevron said on Wednesday it is inspecting propane heat exchangers on Train 2 which has been shut for maintenance since May.

Reporting by Melanie Burton and Jessica Jaganathan; Writing by Florence Tan; Editing by Robert Birsel

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