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Worker stages protest after refurbed oil rig asbestos scare

A Victorian man has staged a solo protest at Lascelles Wharf in Geelong, claiming that a giant visiting oil rig at the port had posed asbestos danger to workers refurbishing the rig.

Dieter Vetter worked on the rig as a fitter and elected health and safety officer before being told he was no longer required, according to a press release from WorkSafe Victoria. Vetter claims he was squeezed out of his position because he raised concerns about safety, the press release said.

State union officials backed Vetter this week, saying the rig’s owners were pushing to meet a deadline to guide the rig back through shipping channels into Bass Strait. Maersk Drilling confirmed that asbestos had been found and dealt with in pipe gaskets and an exhaust system on the oil rig.

A spokesperson from WorkSafe Victoria said that a review after the clean-up had not found any concerns.

The 30,000-tonne rig, Kan Tan IV, is undergoing a multi-million dollar, six-week refit, according to WorkSafe Victoria. The rig is owned by China’s Sinopec Star Petroleum and operated by Denmark’s Maersk Drilling, the company said.

“Paramount is the safety,” said Vetter during his protest.

“My real criteria is I believe I was dismissed for being elected HR rep on this site.”

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