News & Media
Orica outlines actions taken in response to the Kooragang Island incidents
9 December 2011
Orica has today provided more information on the actions it has taken in response to the recent incidents that have occurred at its Kooragang Island site.
Site Manager, Sean Winstone said, "Orica has made a number of significant changes in order to deal with the specific incidents. We have committed major investments, both in capital and resources, to address the causes.
"We recognise that improving the safety and sustainability performance of the site is our highest priority. We have redirected the team who were working on the expansion of our Ammonium Nitrate Plant to immediately focus on key aspects brought forward from this project to ensure improved performance of the Kooragang Island site.
"These changes and additional resources will support the safe restart and ongoing operation of the plants," he said.
A summary of the actions undertaken by Orica is outlined below:
Orica has completed all of the actions prior to restart required by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) as outlined in the Independent Expert's report for the Ammonia Plant incident of 8th August 2011, prepared by an expert from Johnson Matthey. These actions have been independently verified as having been completed.
The key changes that have been made to the Ammonia Plant include:
(i) the cleaning and repair of the vent stack (cleaning is continuing on the vent stack as part of pre start-up testing); and
(ii) a revised start-up strategy with associated equipment modifications to accurately reflect best practice for starting the plant.
The Ammonia Plant Operators have all been retrained consistent with these changes.
The Ammonia Plant remains closed subject to the lifting by the OEH of the Prevention Notices issued in August 2011.
Nitric Acid and Ammonium Nitrate Plants
Orica has completed all of the actions that were required by the OEH in the Independent Expert's report for the Pressurised Ammonia Storage System Incident of 9th November 2011, prepared by an expert from Honeywell. These actions have been independently verified as having been completed.
The key changes that have been made to the Pressurised Ammonia Storage System include:
(i) the modification of procedures and pipework to the Nitrates Plant ammonia feedstock tanks;
(ii) the installation of additional trip systems to give a further additional layer of protection against overpressure of the ammonia feedstock system; and
(iii) a revised critical alarm management system that mandates which feedstock system alarms must always be in place.
The Nitrates Operators have all been retrained consistent with these changes.
Separately, Orica has made a number of formal additional commitments involving plant, people and process to address longer term issues and these have been communicated and agreed with the NSW WorkCover Authority.
Orica has called upon its extensive global manufacturing resources and expertise to make a number of organisational changes to ensure there is comprehensive and experienced oversight of safety during the start-up and going forward. These include:
(i) Appointing the Australia/Asia Sustainability Manager, Sean Winstone, as the KI Site Manager during the start-up phase. Sean brings with him over 20 years of ammonia and ammonium nitrate manufacturing experience and is a former Global Nitrates Manager for Orica, having previously had accountability for all of Orica's large nitrates sites;
(ii) Appointing Leigh Hart as Start-up Manager for the site. Leigh brings with him significant experience in large nitrates sites as well as broad manufacturing and operations experience;
(iii) Establishing a Start-up Support Team with three experienced nitrates sites managers, Paul Healy, Robert Mossop and Stuart Newman, who currently have roles in Canada, Indonesia and Australia respectively (with over 50 years collectively of AN manufacturing experience). In addition, Russell Higgins (former Orica Global Nitrates Manager) and Simon Farrar (Corporate SHE Systems Development Manager) are involved in this team; and
(iv) Establishing a Start-up Oversight Team comprising Sean Winstone, Molly Zhang (Orica Mining Services Manufacturing and Supply Chain Manager) and Richard Hoggard (Orica Group General Manager Major Projects).
Independent ammonia process technology experts are being brought in from leading global engineering organisations to review plans and provide expert advice during start-up.
Orica has put in place a program of communication activities to advise the community of the progress of start-up activities. Residents (who have registered for the service) have already begun to receive email and sms alerts of key activities. A fact sheet on the start-up process is available on www.oricaki.com.au.
Orica is committed to the safe operation of our Kooragang Island plant and to being a responsible corporate neighbour in the Newcastle community. Our operations play a key role in the NSW economy, supplying critical ammonium nitrate to the mining and infrastructure sectors, and ammonia, nitric acid and carbon dioxide to the agriculture, water supply, food, dairy and medical sectors.
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