Union calls for thorough investigations into Hazelwood mine fire after firefighter links cancer diagnosis to the blaze

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Photo: SafetyCulture Library

A firefighters’ union wants a thorough investigation conducted to establish whether firefighters were exposed to toxic substances during the Hazelwood mine fire in Victoria’s Gippsland region.

This comes after a firefighter who was part of the team sent to the mine to battle the blaze was diagnosed with Leukemia. The man said he believed the cancer was linked to the Hazelwood mine fire.

According to the union’s national secretary, Peter Marshall, the man had a type of cancer that was related to firefighting.

“This comes on top of a number of recent incidents in relation to firefighters being exposed, in some cases unnecessarily, to substances that are known to cause cancer and illness and injury,” he said.

Mr Marshall said firefighters need to be compensated whenever they become ill as a result of their occupation. He also expressed concern over the decision to exclude firefighters from a long-term health study into the effects of the mine fire.

“The inquiry into the Hazelwood mine fire recommended an ongoing health study for the community, what it didn’t do was recommend ongoing monitoring for firefighters,” he said.

“So at the very least there should be long-term monitoring of firefighters to determine what the long-term effect of that exposure was, if any.”

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