Greens to keep pressure on Orica

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The NSW Greens say they will continue to focus political pressure on the Orica spill once attention moves to Parliament budget sessions next week.

Greens MLC John Kaye told The Newcastle Herald the Greens would be working hard on Orica when parliament resumed next week.

“While the media attention might shift to the budget you can be assured the work will continue behind the scenes,” he said.

 The call comes after two serious chemical spills within eight days from Orica’s Kooragang Island manufacturing plant.

 On Monday 8 August the Newcastle suburb of Stockton was sprayed with low levels of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium, known as chromium six.

 The following week the company admitted to a second discharge of chemicals, this time announcing that 1.2 megalitres of effluent containing arsenic had poured into the Hunter River.

 The State Government subsequently announced an inquiry into the spills, which will investigate the apparent delays in Orica’s reporting of the incident.

 Later in the week The Shooters and Fishers Party joined the Greens and Labor to support a call for papers and second parliamentary inquiry into the State Government’s handling of the controversy.

 The call for papers requires the Government hand over all of its Orica-related documents within a fortnight.

 The second inquiry will focus on the response of Government ministers and have Premier Barry O’Farrell and Environment Minister Robyn Parker testify over their handling of the controversy.

 Last week locals voiced their anger over Orica’s handling of the spill at a public forum where Hunter New England Health director David Durrheim told residents the leak did not pose a health risk.

 Orica spokesperson Nicole Ekert told Australian Mining the health department had found there would be little environmental impact from the spills but it was too early in investigations to go into further detail.

 “We have repeatedly said in our releases that the health department has indicated there is low health impact. It’s difficult at this stage to go beyond that,” she said.

 Ekert also reiterated early statements by the company about its regret over the accident.

 “We regret the incident and we regret not calling 000 immediately. We will be reviewing our safety guidelines.”

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