Orica delay Kooragang Island plant restart

 Orica have confirmed that it will push back the restart of its Kooragang Island ammonia plant.

Speaking to Australian Mining, Orica spokesperson Nicole Ekert stated that the company is currently not satisfied with the performance of some of the equipment at the site.

"We’ve discovered that one of the compressors has a vibration to it, so we will not restart the plant now until we are completely satisfied with the performance of the equipment," Ekert said.

"The focus is on safety."

Orica says it is currently working with the compressor supplier to address issue.

"This will likely cause a delay of several weeks in the restart, however we are still producing ammonium nitrate," she added.

Despite the ammonia plant delay, Orica has successfully restarted the High Temperature Shift Catalyst Vessel, which was the source of the initial emission of hexavalent chromium on 8 August last year.

This restart "was completed without incident and means that there will be no hexavalent chromium at the plant for the remainder of the restart process," the company stated.

Orica CEO Graeme Liebelt said it "has kept the community updated on the restart of Kooragang Island at important stages of the process and the community’s safety remains absolutely paramount.

"Restarting a plant of this type involves a number of important steps and we are completing each step systematically and without compromise."

When the restart process recommences, there remains the chance that the community may again see gas flares from the vents similar to the flares which ignited earlier this month.

The explosives manufacturer added that "there is no risk to the local community, the environment or the plant from gas flares from the vents".

Orica also recently announced plans to construct an ammonium nitrate storage facility at Denman in the Hunter Valley.

However while the company has not yet bought the site, which is located on the former grounds of the Rosemount winery, it has confirmed that there is an agreement.

Ekert stated that Orica will be holding a community information meeting at the Denman Memorial Hall on 2 February to meet with Denman residents.

Image: Newcastle Herald – Robert McKell


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