Audit of Hunter chemical plants finds faults

SEVEN of the Hunter’s major chemical and storage operations have been inspected in an audit of the state’s high risk facilities.

The compliance audit program was conducted in response to last year’s hexavalent chromium leak at Orica’s Kooragang Island plant.

Origin Energy LPG Limited was found not to have properly maintained its emergency response plan at its Kooragang Island facility.

Incitec Pivot had its licence varied to include a pollution reduction program after auditors found it was non-compliant in its use of stormwater pollution monitoring data at its Kooragang Island plant.

Crawfords Freightliner at Sandgate was issued with a prevention notice for poor stormwater and fire water management.

Each of the companies has either completed or is undertaking improvements to their operations.

They were among 40 sites across the state that were audited with the aim of strengthening the state’s environmental regulation.

Orica’s ammonia plant at Kooragang Island was not included in the audit because it was not operating, however, its Ravensworth storage operation was.

“This audit is the first of its kind to be undertaken in NSW and examined 34 facilities regulated by the Environment Protection Authority, and an additional six facilities regulated by local government,’’ Environment Minister Robyn Parker said.

“It targeted industries that pose a high risk of environmental harm through chemical production and storage, petroleum and fuel production, bulk shipping, dangerous goods production, waste storage and metal fabrication activities.’’

The audit identified a total of 62 non-compliances across the state. Fourteen of the non-compliances were considered serious or “high risk”.

Ms Parker said all the issues identified by the audit were being addressed by the introduction of the NSW government’s reform package to strengthen environmental regulation and industry requirements.

“These reforms include requiring all holders of environment protection licences to prepare, implement and test pollution incident response management plans that include actions to protect local communities and the environment from a pollution incident occurring,” Ms Parker said.

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