Feb 10, 2014

Dirty environmental legacy could burden Orica chemical spin-off

Orica has signaled an interest in becoming a pure mining business, spinning off its chemical business on its own. But numerous environmental liabilities could be a heavy load to bear for a chemical business.

Paddy Manning

Crikey business editor

Substantial environmental liabilities, particularly from a toxic groundwater plume spreading two kilometres around its Botany plant, could weigh heavily on the value of Orica’s chemicals business, if it is indeed spun out as a result of the strategic review canvassed at last month’s annual general meeting.

As mooted in today’s Australian Financial Review, such a demerger — the latest in a long line of businesses spun out of Orica, including Dulux — would turn the parent company into a pure mining services business.

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One thought on “Dirty environmental legacy could burden Orica chemical spin-off

  1. Mardon Chris

    None of this comes as the slightest surprise for me. As a former employee of ICI in the 1960s, I saw a lot of what was happening to their wastes. The Botany factory was built on sand hills close to Botany Bay, while the Yarraville fertilizer factory was conveniently close to the Maribyrnong River. Workers at Yarraville used to joke that the phosphate ships went home a couple of knots faster than they came because all of the barnacles fell off. Both sites are still subject to EPA cleanup notices, but there does not seem to be any deadlines for compliance. Orica is by no means the only sinner, especially at Yarraville where several other nearby sites are also subject to EPA cleanup notices. Also, the oil refineries at Altona and Geelong are notorious for their contaminated sites. That is why the refineries are being converted to imported fuel depots so that the final cleanup can be deferred until the never never. These contaminated sites deserve far more attention than they are currently receiving.

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