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Orica CEO, Graeme Liebelt, presents to Select Committee
17 November 2011
Orica Managing Director and CEO, Graeme Liebelt, today presented his evidence to the NSW Legislative Council Select Committee on the Kooragang Island Orica Chemical Leak.
"I want to offer our sincere apologies to all those who have been affected by the August 8 incident at our Kooragang Island site, most particularly to the residents of Stockton, but also to other neighbouring communities, the various regulatory bodies and to our customers," Mr Liebelt said. "This incident has really shaken us as an organisation."
Mr Liebelt’s opening remarks to the Select Committee are attached.
Opening Remarks by Graeme Liebelt to NSW Legislative Council Select Committee
17 November 2011
Thank you Mr Chairman, and I do appreciate the opportunity to say a few words by way of opening.
First and foremost, as I have done publicly on a number of previous occasions, I want to offer our sincere apologies to all those who have been affected by the August 8 incident at our Kooragang Island site, most particularly to the residents of Stockton, but also to other neighbouring communities, the various regulatory bodies and to our customers. This incident has really shaken us as an organisation.
The comments about our company that we hear from the community and elsewhere are very distressing. We don't accept that they reflect who we are, and we are very determined to turn that around.
In responding to the incident on August 8 and its aftermath, we have sought to provide complete co-operation with the authorities in a transparent way. We chose to publicly release the independent expert's report into the incident itself, as we did with the independent toxicology report into the potential health effects of the release. We also supported the work of Mr O'Reilly in his inquiry and we have supported its recommendations.
So what do we have to do now?
First, we have to ensure that the design and procedural shortcomings that caused the August incident are fixed, and ensure that the plant is safe for restart.
Just as importantly, we need to acknowledge that we have let the community down, and we need to work to rebuild their trust. We know that will take some time. We know it will take improved communication and an extended period of proven performance.
Just to add a word or two specifically about the chromium excursion. The question of whether we reported within the requirement of ‘as soon as practicable' has been the subject of much criticism and is now the subject of legal proceedings. Whatever the outcome of those proceedings, we have publicly acknowledged that we regret not reporting to the authorities sooner. I wish we had reported it sooner. We support the recommendations of the O'Reilly report which are clearer on the required reporting timeframe.
Finally, I would like to explain a little of the positive contribution Orica and Kooragang Island make to NSW. Orica is an Australian success story. We have gone from being the subsidiary of anoverseas based multi-national in 1997, to today being a proud, Australian owned, global leader in mining services. In NSW we have over 1000 employees, we have sales of over $600 million and we pay salaries of over $125 million. Kooragang Island employs 170 people and at any given time there is likely to be 150 additional contractors on site. At times of plant turnarounds or expansions there can be as many as 700 people on site.
Over the past six years we have spent over $400 million in capital on the site and we have a planned expansion of ammonium nitrate that will see us spend at least another $600 million over the next three years. This will create more jobs during the construction phase and on an on-going basis. The site provides mission critical products to the mining, health, water treat ment, agriculture and food and beverage sectors. The ammonium nitrate capacity expansion is critical to the ambitious plans of the mining industry in New South Wales.
So let me end my opening remarks where I started them; we deeply regret the Kooragang Island incident and its consequences and we are very determined to improve our performance as a result. Thank you for the opportunity to speak and I welcome your questions.
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