NSW Land and Environment Court hands Orica fine

ORICA has copped the largest fine handed down to a company by the NSW Land and Environment Court in history for pollution incidents at Kooragang Island and Botany.

Last week Orica was convicted and penalised $768,250 in relation to charges brought by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

This included a fine of $211,750 for the hexavalent chromium leak that affected residents of Stockton on August 8, 2011.

The NSW Land and Environment Court also ordered Orica to pay the Environment Protection Authority's investigation costs of $65,000, as well as their legal costs.

Environment Protection Authority chairman Barry Buffier said the sentence was a good outcome for the environment and the communities affected.

The projects to be funded by the penalty include the Hunter River health monitoring program, the Lower Hunter particle characterisation study, Stockton cycleway revegetation works, stage two of Kooragang Dykes restoration, stage three of the Tomago Wetland rehabilitation project, the Pitt Street Reserve public domain and the Sir Joseph Banks Reserve bush regeneration project.

In a statement to the media, Orica said it would closely review the decision.

Orica's executive global head of manufacturing Richard Hoggard said the company had invested more than $200 million over the past three years delivering the largest improvement program in the Kooragang Island facility's history.

He said Orica had also redesigned its ammonia plant to prevent any repeat incidents, started an ammonia management improvement program, and had upgraded its alarms and equipment.