Feedback sought on ammonium nitrate rule changes

The NSW Government is proposing to strengthen safety measures around the storage of ammonium nitrate.

The chemical, which is inactive unless it is mixed properly is stored at places like Kooragang Island with Orica in Newcastle – the chemical is the main ingredient in explosives used at mine sites. 

The main proposed change is introducing a mandatory separation distance between ammonium nitrate facilities and surrounding infrastructure like populated areas.

Under NSW legislation all storage of ammonium nitrate requires a licence from SafeWork NSW. Quantities of ammonium nitrate that exceed 2,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate or 5,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilisers also require a major hazard facility licence.

The government is proposing to only licence facilities to store ammonium nitrate if they comply with standard separation distances from populated areas and infrastructure.

Everyone is being urged to have their say on:

  • mandatory separation distances for the storage of ammonium nitrate
  • suitable timeframes for ammonium nitrate storage facilities to implement the separation distances
  • potential community and industry benefits and disadvantages of the proposed changes.

Acting Head of SafeWork, Andrew Gavrielatos said the consultation period is now open.

“NSW has a strong multi-agency regulatory regime for the storage of explosives and explosive precursors like ammonium nitrate. This proposal would strengthen that regime and raise NSW safety standards to the same level as other Australian states,” Andrew Gavrielatos said.

“Although there is unlikely to be an incident at an ammonium nitrate facility, international incidents such as the explosion in Beirut two years ago show that the consequences can be catastrophic when ammonium nitrate is stored too close to residential, industrial, and other public infrastructure.

“This ‘Have Your Say’ proposes to strengthen an already robust regulatory framework and ensure clarity and consistency for industry.

“The proposal will apply to approximately 25 current ammonium nitrate storage facilities regulated by SafeWork NSW, including eight major hazard facilities, and will include any new facilities regulated by SafeWork NSW. 

“The purpose of this consultation is to give all stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback and to identify any concerns. This is to ensure regulation of the storage of ammonium nitrate considers all relevant matters, including any economic and social impacts.”

Have you say here:

Submissions are open until November 3.

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