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Residents fear new ammonium nitrate plant in Newcastle

Local residents have voiced their concerns about a new
ammonium nitrate plant proposed for Koorangong Island, saying the plant would
be a “soft target” for terrorist attacks.

A three-hour Planning and Assessment Commission hearing in
Newcastle yesterday heard “heart-felt” complaints about the risk of accidental
explosion, or terrorist attack, Newcastle Herald reported.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment gave approval
for the Incitec Pivoit ammonium nitrate plant last month.

Stockton resident Keith Craig raised the issue of the 2011
Orica controversy when the toxin hexavalent chromium leaked from the plant, and
how the government said at the time that such a plant “would not have been
built today”.

Explosives expert Tony Richards said the new Incitec Pivot
plant would contain enough ammonium nitrate on Kooragang Island for an
explosion comparable to the Hiroshima bomb.

Richards said 40,000 Novocastrians lived within a four
kilometre radius of the existing Orica and proposed Incitec plants, which he
decribed as a “kill zone”.

Richards cited several examples of ammonium nitrate
accidents, including a truck from the ammonium nitrate plant in Gladstone which exploded in Southwest Queensland in September.

Speakers at the meeting criticised the DPE for approving the
plant while saying that the societal risk of a major accident at Kooragang was “considered
to be negligible”.

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