Prevention notice lifted at Orica’s Kooragang Island ammonia nitrate plant

The NSW EPA has lifted the prevention notice on the ammonia storage system for Orica’s Kooragang Island plant, meaning the site will once again be able to manufacture ammonia nitrate.

[Update: Orica experienced another chemical spill after the prevention notice was lifted. It is not clear if the prevention notice has again been enforced. Read the story here.]

It came after a meeting of the Orica Start Up Committee on Monday, which endorsed the removing of the prevention notice on the ammonia feed tanks.

This lifting will allow for the start up of the ammonium nitrate plant, Orica says.

It "has demonstrated to the EPA and other regulatory bodies that it has satisfactorily addressed the issues that caused the 9 November ammonia vapor incident that resulted in the ammonium nitrate plant at the site being shut down," the company said in a statement.

Orica is continuing with the pre start-up testing of the ammonia plant that it began over the weekend.

The safety tests involve turning on the steam system to test its integrity.

The steam will then be used to check a range of systems and to prove if the vent stack is clean of any contamination from the 8 August incident.

Gary Davey, from the EPA explained that "Orica has completed the works recommended by the independent engineer concerning the nitric acid plant and ammonia feed tanks and the Start Up Committee has reviewed these and had them independently verified.

Davey explained that the EPA has now "accepted the recommendation of the Start Up Committee to allow restart of the ammonia feed tanks and will lift the prevention notice today. This means that Orica will be able to operate the nitric acid plant".

However, further pressure testing of its operating systems is still needed before it will restart after "Orica reported to the Committee that it encountered some problems over the weekend concerning the pressure testing of the ammonia plant," Davey stated.

Following an update on the pre start-up tests, a date will be set for the next committee meeting.

Image: Daily Telegraph – Source: Robert McKell