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Background and Site History

Milestones relating to the Former ChlorAlkali Plant (FCAP) Mercury Remediation Project at Botany Industrial Park (BIP). 

Remediation Project History

The following timeline lists milestones relating to the Former ChlorAlkali Plant (FCAP) Mercury Remediation Project at Botany Industrial Park (BIP). 

1944 - 2002  Former ChlorAlkali Plant operated at BIP. Used mercury cell technology (PDF 268.9KB) to manufacture chlorine, caustic soda and hydrogen. 
2002 Mercury cell technology plant replaced with a modern environmentally friendly plant, using mercury-free membrane technology.  
2004-2007 Former ChlorAkali Plant demolished in two stages with mercury contaminated waste materials disposed at licensed landfill cell.
2006-2009 Investigations for mercury in soil and groundwater in the vicinity and downgradient, from the FCAP area.
August 2008 Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (HHERA) prepared which assessed potential risks to human health and the environment from the mercury contamination.
November 2009 Further soil investigations carried out to delineate areas requiring remediation. Report issued August 2010.
December 2009 Voluntary Management Proposal (VMP) lodged with the Department of Environment Climate Change and Water (DECCW) (now the EPA). The VMP detailed Orica's remediation commitment and how project activities would be carried out in compliance with NSW environmental legislation.  
August 2010 Remediation Action Plan (RAP) for the Soil Washing Project submitted to the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) (now the EPA) for comment following review by the EPA-accredited Site Auditor. The RAP is a technical document that details how the soil washing works would be conducted.
January  2011 Soil Washing RAP revised by Orica to address feedback from the OEH.
May 2011 VMP for the implementation of the Soil Washing project RAP submitted to the OEH. 
31 March 2011 Construction completed of the Temporary Emission Control Enclosure (TECE) to house the soil washing technology and manage vapours.
31 March 2011 Soil washing technology installed inside the TECE and commencement of project commissioning.
May 2011 OEH issued a Notice of Approval of the VMP (PDF 736.7KB) to commence with treatment of the soil washing project.
May 2011 Soil washing commenced
18 August 2011 Soil Washing technology suspended. Although all environmental licence conditions had been met during operation, the technology was unable to sustain adequate reliable operation. Orica advised it would remain committed to achieving the remediation objectives.
6 January 2012 NSW EPA withdrew approval for the VMP.
9 January 2012 Management Order (MO) issued by NSW EPA under the Contaminated Land Management Act, 1997 for the project. Some dates in the Management Order were amended by the EPA Notice to Amend Ongoing Management Order.
16 April 2012 Remediation Options Appraisal Report (ROAR) submitted to the EPA, following extensive evaluation of four technology options.
23 April 2012 Independent Review of ROAR completed.
30 April 2012 Groundwater Monitoring Plan (PDF 1MB) submitted to the EPA for ongoing annual monitoring for mercury in groundwater.
April-May 2012 Feedback sought from the community on the ROAR. The Feedback Summary was shared with the EPA and the CLC.
11 May 2012 Orica confirmed its preferred remediation option of on-site containment in a letter to the EPA as required by the MO.
8 June 2012 The EPA requested further clarification of matters outlined in the letter, and Orica submitted an updated letter outlining its preferred remediation option (PDF 482.1KB).
16 July 2012 Orica submitted two Remediation Action Plans - for Blocks A and M, and  Block G – to the EPA for approval.
7 March 2013 Orica submitted four environmentally-focussed Management Plans to the NSW EPA for review: Environmental Management Plan; Air Quality Management Plan; Soil and Water Management Plan; and Excavation Plan. 
May 2013 Orica held two community information sessions to share information about the project and seek community feedback.  
June 2013 Revised Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (HHERA) issued.
2 August 2013 NSW EPA issued a revised Management Order, which set the framework, actions and timeframes for the remediation work. Some dates in the Management Order were ameded by the EPA Notice to Amend Ongoing Management Order. 
7 August 2013 NSW EPA added conditions to Orica's Environment Protection Licence (PDF 189.8KB) to allow the remediation project to proceed.
August 2013 The FCAP Remediation Project commenced.

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Former ChlorAlkali Plant  

Between 1944 and 2002 Orica operated a ChlorAlkali Plant at Botany Industrial Park (BIP). After the new ChlorAlkali Plant was constructed and commissioned in 2002, the former ChlorAlkali Plant was decommissioned and then completely demolished in two stages between 2004 and 2007.  

To read more about the former ChlorAlkali plant’s operation and demolition see our fact sheet.  (PDF 268.9KB)


Investigating Mercury Contamination 2006 - 2009 

Orica has investigated soil and groundwater in the vicinity and downgradient of the former ChlorAlkali plant, as well as off-site from BIP, for potential mercury contamination. Orica undertook these investigations to assess the extent of any contamination and the potential for remediation of the former ChlorAlkali Plant area. 

For more information about soil and groundwater investigations between 2006 and 2009, see our fact sheet. (PDF 331.3KB) 

For ongoing mercury groundwater monitoring results click here


Overview of Now Discontinued Soil Washing Project 

Preparations for the former ChlorAlkali Remediation Soil Washing Project commenced on site in July 2010 and operations commenced in April 2011. A soil washing plant was established on site to separate the mercury contamination from the soil. 

Unfortunately the soil washing plant was not able to sustain adequate reliable operation and in August 2011 Orica decided to suspend the works. 

During the period of soil washing the following was achieved: 

  • approximately 2,900 tonnes soil excavated and treated 
  • approximately 1350 tonnes soil validated and reused
  • approximately 800 tonnes concrete crushed and reused 
  • 1,200 kg mercury recovered and sent to a specialist recycler 
  • approximately 900 tonnes soil and concrete sent to monocell 

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