Yesterday the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) issued an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) to Orica Australia to cease wastewater releases to a Trade Waste Facility at the companies Gladstone facility. Orica are being investigated by DERM for alleged unauthorized wastewater releases of cyanide in January and February from their Yarwun chemical plant, 8km north—west of Gladstone.
Orica is licensed to discharge wastewater which contains 1 miligram per litre of total cyanide through their trade waste facility and have advised DERM that on numerous occasions throughout January and February there has been discharges containing double the acceptable level of cyanide.
The International Cyanide Management Institute asserts that at high levels, cyanide can kill fish. DERM has confirmed that to date there has been no evidence of environmental damage caused by the Gladstone release but that tests were continuing.
DERM is investigating whether Orica failed to notify them of the leak, as is required under their development approval. Orica may face fines of up to $832,000 if it is found that the company failed to properly report the incidents to authorities.
This occurrence is just the latest in a series of accidents involving Orica facilities. Orica recently made national headlines due to a series of chemical leaks which resulted in the closure of their Kooragang Island ammonium nitrate plant and a $90 million hit to Orica’s earnings for this financial year.
It is hoped that government authorities take a closer look into the workings of Orica Australia and their numerous facilities to avoid any further release of potentially harmful chemicals into our environment.
If you would like to know more information about Orica’s contamination legacy please click here.