Environmental concerns at Penrice site

Penrice Soda’s decision to close its chemical plant in the
Adelaide suburb of Osborne has raised the question of who will pay for its
environmental remediation.

The ABC reports that
the site needs to be cleaned up but there are doubts about whether the company,
which is in receivership, will be able to pay for the job.

According to South Australian Planning Minister John Rau,
the environmental responsibility lies with the company. He would not be drawn on
whether the government would meet the costs if Penrice could not.

“Let’s find out how much we’re dealing with, let’s find
out what options it’s got, who if anybody has any residual responsibility to
clean up and then let’s have a conversation about it,” he said.

He added that there are by-products of industrial processes
left at the site, but none of these are a threat to public health in
themselves.

Most of the plant’s 95 employees have been made redundant. However,
a small number of them will be retained to manage the safe decommissioning of
the plant

The company was placed into administration in April this year. It had $117 million in debt and owed trade creditors about $35 million.

The decision to close the plant followed the withdrawal of
the preferred bidder from sale process.

Reasons cited by the administrators for the withdrawal of
the bidder included uncertainty around the future profitability of the plant,
the expenditure required to achieve profitability and legacy environmental
issues associated with the Osborne site.

Image: www.penrice.com.au