Orica is committed to resolving legacy issues to ensure that they are not passed on to future generations. During historical operations at the Villawood site, contamination of soil and groundwater occurred at a time when environmental regulations were not as stringent and understanding of environmental issues was not as scientifically advanced as current times. Orica aims to be a business that does no harm to people and the environment and takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. Orica completed soil treatment for remediation of the Villawood site in August 2015. This marks an important milestone in a long-term legacy remediation project.
Through ongoing discussion with the community and regulatory authorities, Orica ensured that the planning and delivery of the Orica Villawood Remediation Project met the expectation of all stakeholders. Orica's land at Villawood is zoned for industrial use. Orica intends to sell the site industrial or commercial use.
Orica has no operational activities at the Villawood site.
From the Commonwealth to Taubmans
In 1941 the Villawood site was established by the Commonwealth Government to produce munitions, including TNT. The government then sold the site to Taubmans Pty Ltd in 1946. Taubmans manufactured a range of chemicals including monochlorobenzene (MCB) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT).
From Taubmans to ICIANZ
Taubmans went on to sell the southern portion of the site to Imperial Chemical Industries, Australia and New Zealand (ICIANZ) Pty Ltd in 1953. ICIANZ centralised its agricultural operations at Villawood, manufacturing a range of agricultural chemicals mostly for Australia's agricultural and livestock industry. These included:
- livestock food supplements
- weed killers
- plant growth regulators.
The manufacture of DDT ceased in 1961 following a ban by the Commonwealth Government on the use of chlorinated insecticides for livestock treatment.
In the mid-1960s ICIANZ commenced manufacturing pharmaceutical products and continued to formulate a wide range of agricultural and pharmaceutical chemicals until the site closed in 2000.
From ICIANZ to Orica Limited
In July 1997, the Australian and New Zealand operations of Imperial Chemicals Industries became an independent Australasian company when ICI divested its 62.4 percent shareholding in ICI Australia Ltd. As a result of the sell down, the new company became Orica Limited in February 1998.
The Villawood site had begun winding down its operations from 1990 onward when insecticide and fungicide manufacturing ceased. Production of pharmaceutical production stopped in 1999 under the new Orica and six months later, in May 2000, all manufacturing at the site had ceased.
Except for the pharmaceuticals building to the south-west of the site, the majority of buildings were demolished by mid 2001. In October 2003 Orica began cleaning up the 2.1 hectare pharmaceuticals site and transferred the contaminated soil to a licensed secure storage facility in the north-east corner of the site.
In early 2004 groundwater studies conducted by Orica on the site identified levels of contamination to be of some concern. In July 2004 Orica met with the Department of Environment and Conservation (now the NSW Environment Protection Authority) to discuss the contamination issues and Orica's intent to put in place remediation plans. Shortly after, the then Department of Environment and Conservation declared the Villawood site to be a significant risk of harm (SRoH), requiring specific regulatory actions to be taken to address the remaining site legacy issues.
Orica submitted a proposed voluntary investigation agreement (VIA) and a voluntary remediation agreement (VRA) to the Department of Environment and Conservation to ensure that the ongoing site remediation is managed under the rigorous regulatory framework of the Contaminated Land Management Act. The site was formally declared a remediation site on April 2005 and the Environmental Protection Authority issued a remediation order (RO) on 11 July 2005.
Following that time remedial investigations were conducted, a remedial action plan was agreed and an environmental assessment produced and publicly exhibited. Project approval for the remediation project was granted by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure in April 2012.
||Commonwealth establishes Villawood site to produce munitions, including TNT
||Commonwealth sells Villawood site to Taubmans who produced chemicals at the site
||Taubmans sells Villawood site to ICIANZ
||ICIANZ commences manufacturing of pharmaceutical and agricultural chemicals
||Production of DDT ceased
||ICIANZ ceases production of fungicide and insecticide
||ICIANZ selldown. A new company called Orica Ltd is formed
||Orica ceases production of pharmaceuticals
||Majority of buildings on Villawood site demolished
||Orica begins cleanup of old pharmaceutical site
||Orica groundwater studies reveal contamination. Orica informs NSW EPA
||Orica proposes a voluntary remediation agreement
||Villawood site declared a remediation site by (the then) Department of Environment and Conservation
||Remediation project approval
||Remediation Plant removed from site
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