May 27, 2020

Incitec Pivot fined over sulphuric acid spill

Incitec Pivot fined over sulphuric acid spill

Incitec Pivot says it has implemented a raft of measures to prevent further spills after a sulphuric acid release which saw a subsidiary fined $45,000.

The company holds an environmental authority authorising mining, chemical manufacturing, extracting and screening in the Mount Isa region.

It pleaded guilty to two charges of contravening a condition of an EA and was sentenced in the Mount Isa Magistrates Court last week for the release of an estimated 50 kilolitres of sulphuric acid into the environment at the Phosphate Hill site in April 2018.

The company was also ordered to pay $2,164 in investigative costs and $1,500 in legal fees. No conviction was recorded.

An Incitec Pivot spokeswoman said the company had acted quickly to prevent such a spill occurring in the future, undertaking a range of measures, including installing a system to automatically stop acid being unloaded if equipment was not unloading correctly.

“Our Zero Harm approach applies as much to our impact on the environment as it does to safety and since this incident in 2018 we have increased our focus on minimising the impact of our operations on the environment,” she said.

“As acknowledged by the Department of Environment and Science, the spill was an accident due to human error, not related to any systematic issues.

“Once we became aware of the spill, we notified the department, immediately contained and cleaned up the spill and cooperated fully with the department’s investigations.”

The total cost of clean-up, remediation and preventative works is expected to be around $500,000.

The Department of Environment and Science, which commenced the prosecution, said the court outcome showed that it was committed to protecting the environment and enforcing Queensland’s environmental laws.

“As the environmental regulator, DES takes compliance seriously. The department sets clear standards for environmental performance and will take action when those standards are breached,” a spokeswoman said.