ORICA could set a date as early as next week to reopen its ammonia plant.
However, the company still had a lot more work to do before it could reopen its nitric acid plant, and therefore the whole Kooragang Island complex, Environment Protection Authority chief Greg Sullivan said yesterday
Mr Sullivan said another meeting of the Orica ‘‘start-up’’ committee next week would probably set a date to reopen the ammonia plant.
Speaking after the seventh meeting of the Orica ‘‘start-up’’ committee, Mr Sullivan said he knew the shut-down was putting commercial pressures on Orica’s customers, including the coal industry.
Orica is also a major supplier of industrial carbon dioxide and other chemicals.
Mr Sullivan said he also understood the concerns of Stockton and Mayfield residents but had no grounds to keep the facility shut once Orica had satisfied the ‘‘prevention notices’’ issued by the authority.
The first prevention notice shut Orica’s ammonia plant after the chromium six leak of August 8.
The second notice shut the nitric acid plant after an ammonia leak on November 9.
Orica was able to keep producing explosive after the first notice by importing ammonia rather than making it on site but the second notice resulted in a full shut-down.
The committee wants Orica to do a dress rehearsal, with government environmental officers present, before starting up the ammonia plant.
On the nitric acid plant, Mr Sullivan said Orica needed to install new pressure sensors and ‘‘cut-offs’’ to ensure there was no repeat of this month’s ammonia leak.
Stockton Community Action Group spokesman Keith Craig said the community was still concerned about the plant and wanted it kept closed.