Fertilizer company Incitec Pivot today rejected claims by the State Government it would move the company’s plant from Port Adelaide.
Premier Jay Weatherill announced yesterday: “Incitec Pivot will move its operations out of Port Adelaide to a new South Australian facility, under a State Government policy aimed at reviving Port Adelaide.”
Incitec’s chief operating officer James Whiteside told ABC Radio this morning it would move from the current site, but any new site would still be “in Port Adelaide or the Greater Port Adelaide precinct”.
“We’re keen to move; we’re looking at a number of sites and it’s expected to take six to 12 months to select a new site,” Whiteside said.
“Then we’ll go through the various planning application processes.
“It’ll be in Port Adelaide.
“I can confirm that we’ve entered an agreement that we’ll move, but I can’t give a date or a place.”
Late this morning, the State Government clarified its claim.
“Incitec Pivot will move its operation out of the inner-harbour,” a government spokeswoman said.
It’s the latest in a series of claims and counter claims regarding the site, its safety and its future.
The State Government first promised to relocate the plant in 2010 with an expected departure date of 2012.
A SafeworkSA report in 2010 had raised concerns the plant’s stockpile of fertilizer could explode, producing a kilometres-wide blast zone and releasing toxic gases.
In August 2012, InDaily reported the Urban Renewal Authority had funded a relocation study to identify alternative sites.
The company maintains its position that the site is not dangerous, but accepts it has to move.
“We would argue that [Safework’s] assessment that a pile of fertilizer sitting in that shed could spontaneously explode is not a baseline fact,” Whiteside told a State Parliament Committee last year.
Whiteside said Incitec’s Port Adelaide site did not store any ammonium nitrate. The site stored Cal-Am, a 20/80 mix of calcium carbonate and ammonium nitrate.
“Cal-Am itself is not an explosive; it is not capable of detonation on its own or through accidental misuse.
“It is a different product. It contains some ammonium nitrate, and it also contains around 20 per cent calcium carbonate, which is essentially an inert substance, which substantially changes the capacity of the product to explode.
“If you go to a considerable amount of trouble and effort you can find a way to make Cal-Am explode. It will not happen spontaneously.”
Whiteside rejected claims explosive chemicals were stored at the site, saying calcium ammonia nitrate had not been stored there “for some time and claims about it are inaccurate”.
The State Government statement said: “From next year, calcium ammonium nitrate will no longer be stored at the Port Adelaide site, which along the with the agreement to move, will remove a substantial barrier to development in and around the harbour.”
“One of the key initiatives is the move of Incitec Pivot so it can continue serving the South Australian market from a new South Australian facility,” Premier Weatherill’s statement said.
“A precinct plan is being finalised as the first step towards rezoning the Port through a Development Plan Amendment, which will allow for future development.
“The plan will be released early in the New Year once it has been refined to take into account Incitec Pivot’s relocation.”
Port Adelaide mayor Gary Johanson weighed into the debate, labelling the State Government announcement a “hat-trick”.
“This is the third time the government’s said Incitec Pivot will be moved,” he told ABC Radio.
“Jay’s been watching too much Test cricket and he’s after a hat-trick.”
– with Liam Mannix
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