New grain silos approved for Cardiff Ingham feed mill site after 2017 collapse

Lake Macquarie City Council has almost doubled the legal height limit at a Cardiff site where a company plans to build four grain silos that will be almost 25 metres high.

At its meeting on Monday night, council approved an application from poultry company Ingham to build the silos at the Nelson Road feed mill. 

It comes after one of the silos collapsed in January, 2017, spilling about 3500 tonnes of feed. 

Two other silos were also damaged during the incident and were later demolished. 

Four silos will replace the three damaged structures, though it’s understood the overall capacity won’t increase. 

Councillors approved a height limit of 28.5 metres for the site – up from 15 metres – to allow the new silos.

While each container will be slightly less than 25 metres high, the conveyor system will take the structural height up to 28.5 metres. 

Cr Kevin Baker was the only councillor who voted against the application. 

The Cardiff feed mill this week.

The Cardiff feed mill this week.

He said he had “significant concerns” that there could be a repeat incident, given that grain silos were considered to contain “dangerous goods” – grain dust is widely known to be a combustible substance. 

“We’re probably quite lucky we didn’t have a significant explosion [in 2017],” Cr Baker said. 

Council’s development assessment and compliance manager Stephen Brown said the silos would be “state-of-the-art” structures that would “meet all the current best practices”. 

Mr Brown said council staff believed the risk of another incident at the site “would be much less” with the new silos.

No-one was injured during the 2017 incident. 

A Safe Work NSW spokesperson told the Newcastle Herald on Monday that an investigation involving a structural engineer took place after the collapse and the regulator was satisfied with the findings and closed the inquiry. 

An Ingham spokesperson responded to questions about the investigation’s findings and what measures had been taken to prevent another collapse with a single sentence statement on Monday evening. 

“Ingham’s plans to reconstruct the silos damaged in last year’s collapse and has raised DA with council accordingly,” the statement said.