A recent incident at Woodside Energy's Pluto LNG plant near Dampier has ignited a clash between unions and the company, and raised concerns over worker safety. 

The incident, which resulted in the evacuation of employees, involved a gas explosion during flaring procedures at the plant. 

CFMEU assistant secretary Brad Upton has called for a comprehensive investigation by workplace safety officials in Western Australia.

Woodside Energy has described the event as an “audible release” of gas from a flare tower and has initiated its own investigation into the matter. 

According to reports, flaring activities had commenced on Thursday as part of planned maintenance operations.

Residents of Dampier, situated approximately 8 kilometres away from the Pluto LNG plant, were startled by a loud bang originating from the facility at 11:30 pm on Friday night. 

The union says it has responded to the anxieties of the workers who were directly affected by the incident. 

Brad Gandy, spokesperson for the Offshore Alliance and state secretary of the Australian Workers' Union, acknowledged that employees were fortunate to have escaped serious injuries.

Woodside Energy's attempt to downplay the incident as an “audible release” was met with scepticism from union representatives. 

“Despite Woodside trying to downplay this by labelling it an audible release – this was an explosion,” Mr Gandy claimed.

He further revealed that union members had been placed on partial pay and instructed to take Sunday off.

Woodside made a statement on its Facebook page that acknowledged visible dark smoke emanating from the Pluto LNG facility in the City of Karratha and highlighted the necessity of flaring for the safe operation of the gas plant during maintenance activities. 

Woodside says that investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the incident.

Woodside Energy is obligated to report any reportable incident to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation, and Safety, including WorkSafe in Western Australia. 

Acting WorkSafe commissioner Sally North has confirmed that Woodside has provided initial information regarding the incident and that inquiries are being conducted to ascertain the nature of the event at the plant.