Life-long Latrobe Valley local Deb Decarli has taken on a unique job – overseeing the safe production of hydrogen for a world-first project, in her own hometown.  

HESC Health, Safety and Environmental Specialist Deb Decarli (pictured right).

“Gippslanders— particularly people from the Latrobe Valley — are really invested in making the region a great place to be. Life revolves around how we can help and support each other.”

Deb Decarli is a big part of the Latrobe Valley community. As Secretary of the Yallourn North Football and Netball club, she’s on a mission to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate and belong.

What fewer people may know is that she’s a key team member in the world-first Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Project, overseeing the safe gasification of Latrobe Valley coal.

Working on the HESC Project is more than a job for Deb – it’s a sign of opportunity and growth for the region she’s called home for over 50 years, even though hydrogen as an energy source can sound like a foreign concept to some.

“It’s an exciting new industry our region is exploring. I’m passionate about talking with people I know and explaining the vigorous safety measures we have in place. A lot of people don’t realise that many hydrogen properties are safer to handle than other commonly used fuels today.”

In her role as Health, Safety and Environment Specialist at the HESC gasification facility at Loy Yang, Deb ensures staff are safe and the process is being handled with constant care and precision.

“I take an active approach to my working days. An average day sees me moving throughout the plant, staying on top of processes and making sure everyone is working safely. I may also do some targeted inspections or audits in the field,” she said.

“The rest of my time is spent consulting with the employees and checking their safety perceptions, evaluating what can be done to improve safety, delivering toolbox preparation sessions, giving inductions to anyone coming onsite, conducting other safety training and on the very odd occasion, completing incident reports and investigations.”

Deb has enjoyed sharing her knowledge of the HESC Project with family and friends and sharing the technology behind creating clean hydrogen through carbon, capture and storage (CCS) from Latrobe Valley coal.

“They are all interested to see if this will result in a larger project that will create jobs in the Latrobe Valley, which is important to a lot of people,” she said.

“If the current pilot phase extends into a larger operation, the region will benefit greatly. Other industries including CCS can be created and its possible the by-products can be used in other applications – creating more sustainable and diverse industries.”

She hopes to see the economy continue to grow and see communities supporting each other and working together to create new opportunities for generations to follow.

“I love that we are doing work that one day will help create a clean energy source for all Victorians to use.”