Orica resumes ammonia plant restart

 Orica has resumed the restart of its Kooragang Island ammonia plant after repairing a faulty compressor.

Last month, the explosives manufacturer put its plant restart on hold after it discovered a vibratory fault with one of the compressors, Orica spokesperson Nicole Ekert stating at the time 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."

It originally shut the plant due to a number of chemical leaks, starting on 8 August 2011 after higher than allowed levels hexavalent chromium escaped from the plant’s stacks.

Graeme Liebelt, Orica CEO, said the company is now confident it can resume the operation.

"The restart of a plant such as this is complicated and must be done cautiously. We will not compromise on this restart and if we need to again pause in order to assure its safety, we will do so.

Kooragang Island site manager Sean Winstone said the restart of the plant is likely to resume tomorrow.

He added that locals near the plant may see steam coming from the stacks today as the plant is warmed up and equipment checks are carried out.

“Some of the most complex steps involved in restarting the plant, particularly the commissioning of the High Temperature Shift Catalyst, have already taken place. We will continue the restart at a cautious pace with a focus on safety,” he said

The company went on to say there is the chance gas from the vent stacks may ignite again, depending on conditions, but stressed "there is no risk to the community, the environment or the plant from gas flares from the vents".

Orica saw three flare ups from its vent stacks last month.


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