WA bushfire – politician says Alcoa’s workers may have been put in danger

A Western Australian state politician has called for an independent inquiry into the treatment of workers at Alcoa's Wagerup alumina refinery during the recent bushfire.

The ABC reports that the Labor Member for the South West region Sally Talbot has heard from workers who claim their lives may have been put at risk during the fire.

Located south of Perth, the refinery is three kilometres from Yarloop, the town worst affected by the bushfire.

According to Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Steve McCartney, the workers travelled by bus through the fire without being escorted by fire authorities.

"Those people spent well nigh on 12 hours in fear of their lives," Dr Talbot said.

"This is just not good enough and there is clearly a case to answer here."

However, according to Alcoa Refining chief operating officer Simon Butterworth, the workers were never put in danger. He told the ABC their transportation was conducted with the approval of authorities.

Apart from the Wagerup refinery, Alcoa also operates refineries at nearby Kwinana and Pinjarra. In addition, the company operates Alcoa Farmlands, a beef business in the area. As AAP reports, two Farmland office buildings were destroyed by the fire.