Orica resumes Kooragang Island start

Orica has successfully resumed the start up of its Kooragang Island ammonia plant.

It comes after the explosives manufacturer put the process on hold again after problems with the carbon dioxide removal section of the plant.

"During the restart of the ammonia plant, the part of the plant that removes carbon dioxide as a byproduct was not working properly. The restart was suspended and investigations into the cause of the issue have commenced," Orica announced in a statement.

Orica CEO Graeme Liebelt said an investigation into this section of the plant had been carried out and the company is now satisfied that the plant is safe enough to resume start up operations.

“The safety of the community, our people and the environment remains our top priority as we resume the restart. Plants such as this are very complex and we will continue to take a cautious approach to the restart. We will not hesitate to suspend the process again if required," he said.

This is the second time this year that the plant has put the process on hold after also uncovering a problem with faulty compressors at the plant.

The plant also saw a minor nitric acid leak earlier this month as well as an elevated reading of sulphur dioxide at its Port Kembla operations.

Regarding the latest restart of Kooragang Island, site manager Sean Winstone said steam will be introduced from today to warm the plant and conduct routine checks.

“Residents may notice steam coming from the plant on Monday. This is standard procedure when restarting an Ammonia Plant and residents should not be concerned.

“As we have mentioned previously, there remains the chance that atmospheric conditions may cause gas from the vent stacks to ignite. This is not unusual and there is no risk to the community, the environment or the plant from these gas flares. The byproduct of the gas flares is water,” he said.

Orica recorded three gas vent flare ups during its previous restarting procedures.

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