Orica shuts plant following chemical leak at Kooragang Island

Orica shuts plant following chemical leak at Kooragang Island

5:17 PM, 16th August 2011
Orica shuts plant following chemical leak at Kooragang Island


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Orica, the world’s biggest explosives maker, said its ammonia plant at Kooragang Island in Australian remains shut down following a chemical leak and it is not clear when the plant will re-open after an investigation, a spokeswoman said.

Orica said the leak, of sodium chromate, occurred during a routine closure on Monday night at the plant, north of Newcastle in New South Wales state.

“It was shut down for maintenance when the incident occurred. We are still investigating and it won’t be restarted till all of our requirements with (government environmental agency OEH) are fulfilled,” the spokeswoman said.

Orica said the chemical sodium chromate was a carcinogen in humans when exposed over prolonged periods of time, but this was the only instance of a leak from the Kooragang island site.

Traces of the chemical have been found in nearby residential areas and the government agency is taking further samples to check the level of the contaminant in the area, the company said.

Analysts at JP Morgan estimate that each day of lost production cost the company about A$800,000 ($824,000). The Orica spokeswoman declined to confirm the cost to production.

(C) Reuters




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