10,000 signatures reached
To: Orica Limited
Remove dangerous ammonium nitrate from Newcastle now!
Newcastle has a ticking time bomb of 6,000 to 12,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate sitting just 800 metres away from Newcastle residents.
Please stand with the people of Newcastle to demand Orica immediately relocate their ammonium nitrate stockpile to a safer location far away from homes and residents.
By signing this petition, you can help prevent a catastrophic incident from occurring in Newcastle, like it did in Beirut recently. 135 people were killed and 4,000 injured when a 2,750-tonne stockpile of ammonium nitrate unexpectedly exploded in Port Beirut, Lebanon.
Yet an ammonium nitrate stockpile FOUR TIMES larger is currently sitting in the Port of Newcastle — just 800m away from the homes of Newcastle residents and 3km away from the CBD.
One accident at Orica would set off a blast EVEN BIGGER than the one in Beirut, with over 40,000 Newcastle residents living within the blast zone. Orica’s ammonium stockpile needs to be relocated immediately.
Why is this important?
We’re calling on Orica to immediately move their stockpile of ammonium nitrate out of Kooragang Island port and into a safer location far away from people’s homes and families. There’s no reason why a stockpile like this is located in the heart of Newcastle, when the only people it serves is the fossil fuel and mining industry.
My name is Keith Craig, a proud Newcastle resident, chemical engineer and Stockton Community Action Group member.
In 2003 I visited Toulouse in France, two years after 300 tonnes of devastating ammonium nitrate exploded killing 30 people and injuring 14,000. The people were still traumatised and suffering, just like they will be in Beirut for many years to come.
There have been over 30 major explosions of ammonium nitrate worldwide following the start of production in the earlier 1900s. I don’t want this same devastation to happen in Newcastle.
Many Newcastle residents already know Orica for all the wrong reasons.
In 2011, Orica leaked ammonia and the carcinogenic hexavalent chromium into the air above North Stockton, an inner-city suburb of Newcastle. It was days before Orica told residents about the potential leak — during which time residents and families had inhaled the toxic substances as they went around their daily lives and sent their kids to school as usual. North Stockton residents have had to live with elevated pollution levels and air thick with dangerous PM2.5 particles for years.
Also in 2011, Orica had three chemical spills and was responsible for a release of arsenic into the Hunter River. Orica’s plant in Sydney suburb of Botany also released mercury vapours which exceeded the licensed levels.
In 2012, A NSW Upper House Select Committee investigation found that Orica had breached its operating license over the previous decade not just once or twice, but a shocking 130 times.
Following the Beirut blast, Orica has hit the media circuit to downplay the risks of a similar explosion in Newcastle, but residents aren’t buying it. There’s NO SAFE way to store ammonium nitrate this close to population centres of any kind.
In addition to residents, Newcastle community groups, the Stockton Community Action Group, Correct Planning and Consultation for Mayfield, Throsby Villages Alliance, Better Planning Network NSW and Hunter Community Forum all have major concerns around the large stockpiles of ammonium nitrate.
Groups like these have been fighting to remove the stockpile for years. This recent Beirut explosion again shows just how dangerous these stockpiles can be. It would be catastrophic for the community if an accidental explosion were to occur.
Will you sign the petition and help us avoid a potentially catastrophic explosion?