Unite calls for immediate evacuation as crew sent to North Sea exclusion zone

29 Mar

Unite have expressed deep concerns over North Sea offshore health and safety following reports that workers continue to be dispatched to oil rigs within the 3-mile exclusion set around the leaking Elgin platform.

Unite representatives have contacted oil giants Total and the Heath & Safety Executive (HSE) about yesterday’s deployment of a small team of workers to the Franklin platform, a satellite rig of the Elgin situated approximately 3 miles away.  The union has also been in discussions with Shell regarding the shutdown of the nearby Shearwater platform.

The union, who called for the exclusion zone radius to be extended to 5 miles yesterday, are now calling for all further deployment of personnel to neighbouring installations to be suspended with immediate effect and oil companies to clarify their plans for workers in the affected area.

Unite Regional Officer Willie Wallace said, “Families of our members working offshore are getting in touch asking for clarity on the situation. We estimate that there could be anything between 100-200 people currently working on rigs in and around 5 miles of the Elgin.

In the case of the Franklin – normally an unmanned platform – we must question the urgency of putting a crew out there at this time, given its close proximity to the Elgin. We understand there are only temporary power arrangements in place for the Franklin as the standard supply is usually sourced from the Elgin. This could mean a risk to the temporary safe refuge area, which would be used in the event of an emergency situation, as it may not be sufficiently pressurised or fit for purpose.

Transparency is absolutely vital in this unprecedented situation. Unite has welcomed contact from both Shell and Total in the last 24 hours over their shutdown and maintenance plans and further discussions will take place.  However, the oil companies must put people before profit and we are now calling for them to bring forward plans for an immediate evacuation of the impacted area.”

 ENDS

For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer Willie Wallace on 07712444952 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.

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