Orica (formerly ICI Australia) has operated a chemicals manufacturing facility at the Botany Industrial Park (BIP) since 1942. Poor environmental management and waste disposal practices up to the 1980s resulted in significant amounts of chemicals contaminating the underlying soil and groundwater. Orica is addressing and remediating these contamination legacies.
Orica’s current chlorine production activities and its remediation projects are subject to legally enforceable conditions in the company’s Environment Protection Licence.
Elemental mercury was used at Orica’s former chlor-alkali plant from 1944 until it was replaced in 2002. Mercury contamination of the soil and groundwater around the plant requires remediation to prevent continued impact to groundwater. A temporary enclosure to control mercury emissions in the air covers the contaminated land while a remediation plan is underway
Management and remediation of the Orica Botany site
Find out more about the management and remediation of the Orica Botany site.
Independent review into off-site mercury at Orica Botany
The EPA announced in January 2013 that it would independently review all information around historical mercury emissions at Botany. Find out more about the independent review.
Manufacturing operations produced waste by-products, one of which is hexachlorobenzene (HCB). Approximately 15,000 tonnes of HCB waste is safely stored at the Orica Botany site while a solution for its destruction is found. This waste is routinely inspected by the EPA.
The Commonwealth Government, community and Orica are working together to find a disposal solution for the HCB waste.
Treatment of groundwater
Past chemical manufacturing practices also caused chlorinated hydrocarbons to contaminate the groundwater in the Botany Sands Aquifer under the site. A Groundwater Extraction Exclusion Area has been established to cover the contaminated area. The use of groundwater for residential purposes within that area is banned, and industrial users must test the groundwater at least annually to ensure it is fit for use.
Orica is required to maintain three containment lines that extract contaminated groundwater to address this legacy issue. This water is then transferred to a groundwater treatment plant where the contaminants are removed and destroyed. Orica on-sells the treated groundwater to other manufacturing companies.
For more information
- Visit Orica’s website for information about the Botany Transformation Projects
- Read the independent peer review of the June 2013 version of the Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (HHERA), which informs the former chlor-alkali plant remediation project.
- Further information and maps outlining the Groundwater Extraction Exclusion Area can be found on the Office of Water website.
- The NSW Ministry of Health has produced the fact sheet mercury and health.
- The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District's environmental health webpage also contains information about its involvement with the former Orica chlor-alkali plant and a fact sheet on mercury exposure and health.