EPA lifts prevention notice on Orica plant

 The NSW EPA has lifted the prevention notice on Orica’s ammonia plant at Kooragang Island.

The Orica Start Up Committee met yesterday and recommended the restart of the closed ammonia plant, which suspended operations following a series of leaks in August.

It will restart today.

EPA director Gary Davey stated that Orica had completed all of the tasks required and the Committee is satisfied that the explosives manufacturer is ready to restart its ammonia plant.

It comes as Orica restarts ammonium nitrate production, following the lifting last week of the prevention notice for its operation.

The Start Up Committee’s role has been to make sure that Orica has satisfactorily implemented the operational and procedural recommendations outlined in the Independent Engineer’s report, as well as other actions identified by the Committee,” Mr Davey said.

"These recommended improvements, including operational, technical, staff training, clean up and emergency procedures, have been undertaken by Orica and have been assessed by the Start Up Committee and verified by an independent engineer.

"The Committee’s own independent expert, Dr Wayne Davies has confirmed the operational and technical requirements that needed to be undertaken had been completed," Davey added.

"Previously, the Start Up Committee had requested Orica to conduct a full simulation of the start up process. The EPA also has directed Orica to conduct essential pressure testing of some of its operating systems in preparation for restarting the plant.

"Both of these tasks have now been completed successfully."

There were some concerns in the community, with Newcastle Greens councillor telling the Newcastle Herald that the plant should remain closed for public safety.

"They haven’t invested in the infrastructure necessary to ensure the safety of the community or the environment," he said.

This was dismissed by the EPA, which stated that it does not expect there to be any risk to the community from the plant’s restart.

However, it did enforce an additional condition on Orica’s environmental protection licence which requires it to work with the community to develop a communication plan over the coming months to ensure that people are quickly notified in the case of another incident.

Sean Winstone, Kooragang Island’s site manager, told the Herald that community interaction is a top concern for the plant.

Orica is committed to the safe operation of our Kooragang Island plant and to being a responsible corporate neighbour in the community," he said.

The EPA will be working closely with other regulators to maintain a high level of scrutiny on this plant over the coming months and years,” Davey said.

 

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