News & Media
Ammonium Nitrate at Kooragang Island
07 Aug 2020
Ammonium Nitrate (AN) is one of the world’s most widely used fertilisers, and the main component in many types of explosives used within the mining industry. However, Ammonium Nitrate is not an explosive. Rather it is inert (chemically inactive), and requires extreme negligence for it to ever explode.
In Beirut, it appears the product was seized and abandoned in a warehouse for six years, by people who had no experience handling AN or an understanding of the appropriate safety protocols that must be followed. The video footage suggests that fireworks were stored close by, and reports say that a welder started the fire.
Within Australia the production, storage and transport of ammonium nitrate by Orica and others is heavily regulated and monitored.
In addition to these regulations and our own rigorous approach to safety and risk management, our operations at Kooragang Island are regularly inspected by authorities. We also undertake site-wide emergency response exercises, including an annual exercise with the local emergency services.
Our team is trained to stringent accreditation standards associated to AN storage, and all AN storage areas at KI are fire resistant, built exclusively from non-flammable materials, and have designated exclusion zones around them.
In the Kooragang Island site’s 51-year history there has not been a single incident involving the storage of AN.
We understand what the Newcastle community expects of us and we will continue to work hard to meet those expectations.
We maintain an open and honest dialogue with the Newcastle community through community open days, site tours and publishing a quarterly community newsletter. We also facilitate a regular community reference group with members from surrounding suburbs and local environmental and industry groups to provide a forum for on-going communication between Orica and our closest neighbours, and address any concerns in the community.
We will continue to facilitate these activities to ensure we work in partnership with the local community and residents.
We recommend an article published today by The Conversation which talks in more detail about ammonium nitrate in Australia. You can find it here.
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