Orica’s plan to improve the environmental performance of its Kooragang Island site passed a milestone this week with the NSW Government approving the construction of three ammonia flaring systems.
General Manager Orica Kooragang Island Scott Reid said flaring systems are considered best practice and are used extensively in modern plants around the world that produce and use ammonia.
“This project will further improve our plant’s environmental performance by capturing and flaring ammonia emissions at safety release points. This prevents them from entering the environment and in turn reduces ammonia odours.
“Over the past three years Orica has invested more than $200 million delivering the largest environmental and capital upgrade in the plant’s 45-year history and this project is the next step in our program,” Mr Reid said.
In June last year, Orica was issued with fines by the Environment Protection Authority totalling more than $750,000 for seven air and water pollutions at Newcastle and Botany.
Orica pleaded guilty to nine charges for the seven incidents, spanning from October 2010 to December 2011 which included discharges of nitric acid into soil and the Hunter River, and ammonium nitrate and ammonia gas leaks.
Construction of the ammonia flaring systems will commence shortly to install three flare stacks at heights of six, 10 and 20 metres respectively, and is expected to take three years to complete.
It is anticipated that the flares will operate infrequently and should only be visible if activated at night.
The program also includes upgrades to ammonia storage vessels as well as improved detection and isolation systems.
Orica Kooragang Island has also been granted approval to construct a new nitric acid tank, which will be used to store imported nitric acid as well as provide additional storage for nitric acid produced on site.
The additional nitric acid storage capacity will improve Orica’s flexibility to respond to changes in market conditions by providing scope to increase the production of ammonium nitrate at Kooragang Island from 430ktpa to 500ktpa.
The Orica Kooragang Island facility includes an ammonia plant, three nitric acid plants, two ammonium nitrate plants and a product dispatch facility.
Kooragang Island’s ammonia plant uses natural gas (methane) to produce approximately 360,000 tonnes of ammonia (NH3) per annum. This ammonia is used in the manufacture of nitric acid and ammonium nitrate, and is also sold for use as an agricultural fertiliser and a refrigerant.