UPDATE, Thursday, 10.30am: Victoria's energy regulator has declined the chance to clarify issues around the destructive testing of a power pole which sparked The Sisters/Garvoc bushfire on St Patrick's Day last year. The testing claimed to be carried out by Energy Safe Victoria has left some of the pole in splinters contained in unmarked plastic bags. Lawyer for the victims of the bushfire claim their experts were excluded from discussions about the testing or from attending the testing. An ESV spokesman released statement this morning that did little to shed light on the situation. "The rights and relationships as between the plaintiffs and defendants are matters to be ventilated at trial. ESV will not be giving a running pre-trial commentary about those rights and relationships," he said. At 7.25am: Powercor has handballed responsibility for destructive testing on the key evidence in a south-west Supreme Court bushfire case to the state regulator. An affidavit in the Supreme Court alleged Warrnambool's Maddens Lawyers sent a letter to Powercor on March 20 last year requesting that the remains of the pole which started The Sisters/Garvoc bushfire on St Patrick's Day be preserved and securely stored. On March 29 in-house counsel Laurence Mandie advised the pole was being stored in Powercor's Ballarat depot and the distribution company was waiting for advice from ESV "as to testing or other actions". Questions about how destructive testing was carried out were put to Powercor officials on Tuesday. A spokeswoman said: "Maddens was advised three times in March and April 2018 that ESV was investigating and that ESV could require Powercor to hand the pole over for ESV to test as part of its investigation. "ESV took formal custody of the pole on March 26, 2018. The testing that followed was conducted by ESV and its experts for the purpose of ESV's investigation into the fire," she said. There was no comment made in relation to whether experts for the bushfire victims were consulted or allowed to be present during the testing which left parts of the pole in splinters and stored in unlabelled plastic bags. Questions have also been asked of Energy Safe Victoria about the testing process and whether the regulator was aware of requests made to Powercor and commitments given by the company. It's expected ESV will provide comments today. Wednesday: Crucial remains of a rotten power pole that snapped and sparked The Sisters/Garvoc bushfire have been reduced to remnants in unmarked plastic bags due to destructive testing, according to documents filed in the Victorian Supreme Court. Despite being warned to preserve remains of a power pole, it's claimed that state regulator Energy Safe Victoria undertook destructive testing, in the presence of Powercor representatives, which resulted in enormous damage to the key evidence. In an affidavit filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on September 5, a solicitor for some of the victims, Matthew McDonald, outlined a range of claims involving Powercor and ESV. The key document is a letter from Warrnambool's Maddens lawyers on March 20 last year to Powercor's in-house counsel as part of a class action. That letter requested that the remains of the pole be preserved and securely stored as the key evidence in the case. On March 29 in-house counsel Laurence Mandie advised the pole was being stored in Powercor's Ballarat depot and the distribution company was waiting for advice from ESV "as to testing or other actions". But, despite the guarantee around preservation and storage, a destructive test was carried out between May 15 and May 31 on the pole. Lawyers and experts for the victims went to Powercor's Ballarat depot and found remnants of the pole. "I observed the pole had been extensively damaged and had been cut into many pieces, most of which were unlabelled. The contents of the pole were in some cases being stored in unlabelled plastic bags," the affidavit said. Professor Peter Vinden said in an expert report the testing involved "extensive invasive investigation". He found the testing comprised unexplained longitudinal sawing from the butt of the pole to above the double staking. Mr McDonald said that after reading export reports from Powercor he came to the view that the company appeared to be aware of and may have had experts attend the destructive testing. On September 2 this year he sent a letter seeking a detailed explanation why the destructive testing went ahead without notice being given to lawyers for the victims or the Supreme Court. Two days later a please explain was sent to ESV. On September 5 ESV confirmed emails had been exchanged with Powercor about the destructive testing and four representatives of Powercor attended the dissection. Mr McDonald said after discussing the matter with Professor Vinden, the lawyers believe that experts engaged by the victims were deprived of the opportunity to obtain essential information. In a 2014 Western Australia similar bushfire case destructive testing was carried out through an agreement after extensive consultation with experts for all parties present. The testing involved cross cuts and the whole process was carefully documented through photographs and video recorded. Comment is being sought from Powercor and ESV. Read more: Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west. Regulator fails to shed light on testing that left bushfire pole in splinters

Bernie Harris and Jack Kenna jnr with the remains of the pole.

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Destructive testing leave remnants of pole Key evidence tested despite commitment to preserve

UPDATE, Thursday, 10.30am: Victoria's energy regulator has declined the chance to clarify issues around the destructive testing of a power pole which sparked The Sisters/Garvoc bushfire on St Patrick's Day last year.

The testing claimed to be carried out by Energy Safe Victoria has left some of the pole in splinters contained in unmarked plastic bags.

Lawyer for the victims of the bushfire claim their experts were excluded from discussions about the testing or from attending the testing.

An ESV spokesman released statement this morning that did little to shed light on the situation.

"The rights and relationships as between the plaintiffs and defendants are matters to be ventilated at trial. ESV will not be giving a running pre-trial commentary about those rights and relationships," he said.

At 7.25am: Powercor has handballed responsibility for destructive testing on the key evidence in a south-west Supreme Court bushfire case to the state regulator.

An affidavit in the Supreme Court alleged Warrnambool's Maddens Lawyers sent a letter to Powercor on March 20 last year requesting that the remains of the pole which started The Sisters/Garvoc bushfire on St Patrick's Day be preserved and securely stored.

On March 29 in-house counsel Laurence Mandie advised the pole was being stored in Powercor's Ballarat depot and the distribution company was waiting for advice from ESV "as to testing or other actions".

Questions about how destructive testing was carried out were put to Powercor officials on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman said: "Maddens was advised three times in March and April 2018 that ESV was investigating and that ESV could require Powercor to hand the pole over for ESV to test as part of its investigation.

"ESV took formal custody of the pole on March 26, 2018. The testing that followed was conducted by ESV and its experts for the purpose of ESV's investigation into the fire," she said.

There was no comment made in relation to whether experts for the bushfire victims were consulted or allowed to be present during the testing which left parts of the pole in splinters and stored in unlabelled plastic bags.

Questions have also been asked of Energy Safe Victoria about the testing process and whether the regulator was aware of requests made to Powercor and commitments given by the company.

It's expected ESV will provide comments today.

Wednesday: Crucial remains of a rotten power pole that snapped and sparked The Sisters/Garvoc bushfire have been reduced to remnants in unmarked plastic bags due to destructive testing, according to documents filed in the Victorian Supreme Court.

Despite being warned to preserve remains of a power pole, it's claimed that state regulator Energy Safe Victoria undertook destructive testing, in the presence of Powercor representatives, which resulted in enormous damage to the key evidence.

In an affidavit filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on September 5, a solicitor for some of the victims, Matthew McDonald, outlined a range of claims involving Powercor and ESV.

The key document is a letter from Warrnambool's Maddens lawyers on March 20 last year to Powercor's in-house counsel as part of a class action.

That letter requested that the remains of the pole be preserved and securely stored as the key evidence in the case.

On March 29 in-house counsel Laurence Mandie advised the pole was being stored in Powercor's Ballarat depot and the distribution company was waiting for advice from ESV "as to testing or other actions".

But, despite the guarantee around preservation and storage, a destructive test was carried out between May 15 and May 31 on the pole.

Lawyers and experts for the victims went to Powercor's Ballarat depot and found remnants of the pole.

"I observed the pole had been extensively damaged and had been cut into many pieces, most of which were unlabelled. The contents of the pole were in some cases being stored in unlabelled plastic bags," the affidavit said.

Professor Peter Vinden said in an expert report the testing involved "extensive invasive investigation".

He found the testing comprised unexplained longitudinal sawing from the butt of the pole to above the double staking.

Mr McDonald said that after reading export reports from Powercor he came to the view that the company appeared to be aware of and may have had experts attend the destructive testing.

On September 2 this year he sent a letter seeking a detailed explanation why the destructive testing went ahead without notice being given to lawyers for the victims or the Supreme Court.

Two days later a please explain was sent to ESV.

On September 5 ESV confirmed emails had been exchanged with Powercor about the destructive testing and four representatives of Powercor attended the dissection.

Mr McDonald said after discussing the matter with Professor Vinden, the lawyers believe that experts engaged by the victims were deprived of the opportunity to obtain essential information.

In a 2014 Western Australia similar bushfire case destructive testing was carried out through an agreement after extensive consultation with experts for all parties present.

The testing involved cross cuts and the whole process was carefully documented through photographs and video recorded.

Comment is being sought from Powercor and ESV.

Read more:

Corangamite MP says ESV report dynamite

Termite infestation weakened Powercor pole

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