Residents fear new ammonium nitrate plant in Newcastle

Local residents have voiced their concerns about a new ammonium nitrate plant proposed for Koorangong Island, saying the plant would be a “soft target” for terrorist attacks.

A three-hour Planning and Assessment Commission hearing in Newcastle yesterday heard “heart-felt” complaints about the risk of accidental explosion, or terrorist attack, Newcastle Herald reported.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment gave approval for the Incitec Pivoit ammonium nitrate plant last month.

Stockton resident Keith Craig raised the issue of the 2011 Orica controversy when the toxin hexavalent chromium leaked from the plant, and how the government said at the time that such a plant “would not have been built today”.

Explosives expert Tony Richards said the new Incitec Pivot plant would contain enough ammonium nitrate on Kooragang Island for an explosion comparable to the Hiroshima bomb.

Richards said 40,000 Novocastrians lived within a four kilometre radius of the existing Orica and proposed Incitec plants, which he decribed as a “kill zone”.

Richards cited several examples of ammonium nitrate accidents, including a truck from the ammonium nitrate plant in Gladstone which exploded in Southwest Queensland in September.

Speakers at the meeting criticised the DPE for approving the plant while saying that the societal risk of a major accident at Kooragang was “considered to be negligible”.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.