Gay orders new full inspection of Cootes fleet

New action mirrors compliance operation that followed Mona Vale tragedy that led to some fuel scarcity

Gay orders new full inspection of Cootes fleet
Second review ordered of Cootes fleet in NSW

New South Wales Roads Minister Duncan Gay has followed up last week’s Cootes warning with a full compliance inspection ordered on the company’s state fleet.

In a move that effectively continues last year’s criticism of the inspection regimes of other states, particularly Victoria, the inspections will involve vehicles registered from outside NSW.

The direction involves all Cootes petrol and gas tankers and was sparked by the findings of random Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) checks last week, "including 35 inspections at Wetherill Park and Port Botany which resulted in 17 vehicles with major defects immediately ordered off the road for repairs".

"These random inspections uncovered significant failures," Gay says.

"This was in addition to two incidents involving Cootes vehicles late last week which presented major defects.

"While we acknowledge there have been some improvements in the fleet, it is simply not good enough that in some cases we have seen repairs that don’t meet our standards during a second or third check.

"Despite four months of ongoing work with Cootes and the parent company McAleese, I have ordered all their NSW tankers be subject to Roads and Maritime compliance checks yet again – just as we did immediately after the Mona Vale tragedy.

"This applies to all tankers that need to operate in NSW, not just the ones registered in NSW.

"I want to assure motorists we have been carrying out extensive inspections and random checks of this fleet since the tragic double fatality on Mona Vale road last October.

"RMS inspectors have carried out more than 450 checks of the Cootes fleet at inspection stations and on roadsides across the state to ensure compliance with roadworthiness standards."

Some fuel shortages were experienced last year after Gay ordered a full fleet inspection following the Mona Vale accident, with some customers down on their transport requirement by more than a third.

A spokesman for Shell would not be drawn on how this latest move would pan out, except to say: "Shell uses several hired carriers to deliver fuel.  As always, the company will manage available fleet to deliver fuel to customers."

BP was awaiting information on how and when the inspections would be conducted.

Cootes parent firm McAleese Group had not responded to the announcement by deadline.

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