Dreamworld Rides Were ‘Not Fit For Service’ Since 2012, Including Fatal River Rapids Ride

In 2012, 13 Dreamworld rides were already deemed “not fit for service” but to date, continued to operate without proper maintenance. One of the rides is the River Rapids Ride which recently killed four Australian patrons.

Safety is paramount in establishments, more so in theme parks and roadside attractions. But with engineering and technology having gone a long way, we rest easy as our kids, and ourselves as well, ride these thrill-giving theme park rides which send us up and down and all around. In fact, ABC reported that every ride at Dreamworld has a checklist of between 75 and 200 checks that testers would have to complete before starting rides, making these attractions as safe as they could be.

Dreamworld is one of the most famous theme parks in Australia [Image by Grant McConachy/AP]
Dreamworld is one of the most famous theme parks in Australia [Image by Grant McConachy/AP]

But with these high hazard rides come a huge amount of responsibility. Proper maintenance is important since, like all things, rides deteriorate, and with deterioration comes consequences.

Yesterday was an immensely terrible day for Australian patrons of the Dreamworld theme park in Gold Cost, Queensland. BBC was only one of the various outlets who reported the terrible theme park accident, killing off four civilians: Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozbeh Araghi, and Cindy Low.

The four bereaved were apparently caught in a malfunction of the ride called the Thunder River Rapid Ride. Daily Mail reports that the Dreamworld ride’s conveyor belt is suspected to have caused the raft carrying the four people to flip, crushing and drowning them.

In a statement, Dreamworld authorities said:

Our immediate concern now is to support the families of the victims and to provide appropriate counselling to our visitors and staff. We are working closely with authorities to understand exactly what occurred.

Although the Dreamworld incident has been regarded as a terrible accident, with thousands of guests coming and riding various attractions at Dreamworld every day, a new report by The Guardian suggests that the incident was a display of grave misconduct in the part of Dreamworld.

Apparently, in 2012, an inspection of Dreamworld conducted by the Australian In-Service Inspection Pty Ltd revealed that air compressors of 13 Dreamworld rides were deemed “not fit for service.” Guess what? The Thunder River Rapid Ride was one of the rides the inspectors suggested for rehabilitation.

On November 12, the Australian In-Service Inspection conducted an examination of what they call “air receivers” on 13 of Dreamworld’s rides. These air receivers are part of the air compression system of most rides, which can be used on amusement rides to propel rides along at speed.

A fact sheet about these air receivers published by Safe Work Australia reveals that they can actually “explode and cause serious injuries or death if they are not adequately inspected and maintained, or if they have been operated above the design pressure.”

As a result of the investigation, Queensland secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, Ben Swan, advised Dreamworld to close down the said 13 attractions as they were not fit for service. He said, however, that the Dreamworld’s engineer did not produce “evidence of having a quality management system in place or any previous vessel inspection reports” and their request was neglected.

The Guardian also has put to light a previous complaint lodged by an anonymous author against Dreamworld, stating that “several rides and water slides are in dire need of fixing, rust visible and falling into pools and major leaks, cracks, chips on slides.”

Rescue vehicles flock to Dreamworld after incident [Image by Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP]
Rescue vehicles flock to Dreamworld after incident [Image by Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP]

But it seems no action has been taken since 2012, which could have resulted in the failure of the Thunder River Rapid Ride at Dreamworld, then causing the death of the four Australians.

Talking to ABC, David Eager, an engineer and member of the Amusement Rides and Devices Australia Standard’s Committee, said that there is a huge possibility that the catastrophe was really a maintenance issue.

“The ride costs millions of dollars but if you maintain them you should get at least 30 years life out. So you wouldn’t think the age of it per se is a problem if Dreamworld does adequate maintenance, which I always thought they did.”

Lawyers said to Daily Mail that Dreamworld operators could possibly face prosecution by workplace health and safety authorities and civil claims of negligence.

[Featured Image by Channel 9 via AP Images]