​Orica fined $750 000 over chemical spills

Orica has been fined more than half a million dollars for a series of chemical spills at its Kooragang Island and Port Botany facilities.

The Land and Environment Court handed down the fine relating to seven incidents which took place between October 2010 and December 2011.

Orica pled guilty to the incidents in 2012, after being accused of breaching its environmental protection licences.

The fine was described by the NSW EPA as the largest penalty of its kind ever issued, according to the Newcastle Herald.

Speaking at the trial, Justice Rachel Pepper said the spills had the “potential to cause both environmental harm and serious harm to human safety”.

It also found that Orica’s delay in reporting the incident may have prevented action being taken in the immediate aftermath; however Pepper added that these delays were not “intentional or wilful”.

Orica’s executive head of global manufacturing Richard Hoggard reiterated the company’s regret for the incidents.

“We now have an opportunity to assess the progress Orica has made since 2011 and look ahead to further enhancements. We believe that Orica has come a long way,” Hoggard said in a company statement.

“The company has invested more than $200 million over the last three years delivering the largest improvement and capital upgrade program in the KI facility’s 45-year history.

“This is in addition to our significant investment in our people, processes and the community.”

Part of this includes the remediation at Botany.

These fines do not include the reported airborne ammonia leaks that occurred in March and the ammonia spill caused by a leaking gasket in September last year.

In 2012 Orica was also hit with $432 000 in fines after accidental water releases containing cyanide at its Gladstone facility.

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