Sulphuric acid spill at Rio Tinto Yarwun refinery

Investigations are being carried out into a sulphuric acid spill at Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery.

According to the Gladstone Observer, the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) is taking action after a reported spill of 25 000 litres of sulphuric acid from the refinery on Sunday.

The acid spill occurred during heavy rain, with most of it washed into the on-site storm water catchment system and into Boat Creek.

To date, DERM has found no evidence of environmental damage caused by the spill.

Rain and high tides have apparently diluted the acid.

According to Rio Tinto’s early investigation, only 3000 litres of acid was spilled into the process area.
“The vast majority of this was contained on site and only a small amount of sulphuric acid and sea water mix was released into the creek,” a Rio Tinto spokesperson told the Observer.

A faulty drain valve believed to be the cause of the spill was immediately removed and will remain out of operation until investigations have finished.

This latest problem at Rio’s Yarwun facility follows a site walk off earlier in the week at the refinery’s Yarwun 2 construction site.


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