Kurri Kurri and Cessnock are second class citizens again
It is very disappointing (but not unpredictable) that Kurri Kurri is now being proposed as the site for a hazardous industry that no-one else wants.
Why it would be sensible to store 40,000 tonnes of material which can create massive explosions if it catches on fire in the middle of a high risk bushfire prone area is baffling.
Secondly the inadequate access to the site, through the village of Pelaw Main and across a dog leg bridge is simply not acceptable. If you google ammonium nitrate explosions Wikipedia has a very alarming list of explosions. Three of the nine explosions since 2000 have involved trucks carrying ammonium nitrate catching on fire after a traffic accident. The most recent of these in 2007 resulted in 37 people dead and 150 injured.
We do not want trucks of ammonium nitrate going over the dog leg bridge at Pelaw Main.
I am calling on Cessnock Council to lead our community forward – not backwards with industry that no-one else wants.
PLANS: The shed proposed for the economic zone.
UP to 40,000tonnes of ammonium nitrate would be stored at a new $50million storage and distribution centre being planned for the Hunter Economic Zone near Kurri Kurri.
The centre would be built by a company associated with the owner of the business park and leased long-term to the national transport and logistics company, Toll Group.
Toll spokesman Christopher Whitefield said the storage centre, if approved, would likely replace two smaller existing facilities at Tomago.
It would create about 400 jobs during construction and take about 50 people to operate.
Ammonium nitrate is an explosive ‘‘precurser’’ and is mixed with diesel to make the explosives used extensively in the Hunter’s open-cut coalmining industry.
About 400,000tonnes of ammonium nitrate is moved through the region each year, with Toll transporting most of it.
Mr Whitefield said some of the ammonium nitrate would come from Orica’s Kooragang Island manufacturing plant and some would be imported.
A preliminary environmental assessment lodged with the NSW Department of Planning says that up to 40,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate would be stored in four storage sheds, each with a 10,000-tonne capacity measuring 45metres wide and 245 metres long.
The environmental assessment says the 3200-hectare Hunter Economic Zone site is ‘‘mainly undeveloped’’.
An Ulrich Aluminium facility about 600metres east of the 30-hectare site selected for the ammonium nitrate warehouse is one of about five businesses on the estate.
If the approval process goes smoothly, Toll hopes to be operating from Kurri by the middle of next year.
Environmentalists and community activists have tended to oppose the manufacturing or handling of ammonium nitrate close to residential areas, citing a number of explosions – some of them catastrophic – around the world over the past 100 or so years.
The Toll plan says the nearest house is 1.5km to the west, with the nearest neighbourhood, Weston, about the same distance away to the north-east.
Mr Whitefield said Toll would have proper measures in place to eliminate any risks.
“This facility will be a secure, purpose-built facility built to international standards, including world’s best practice in fire suppression and safety systems,’’ Mr Whitefield said.
‘‘While we don’t envisage being in Tomago in the long term, no decision has been made as yet.
‘‘But this facility will allow us to look at our options to consolidate our ammonium nitrate storage into the one site.”