Wee Waa community information
This communication has been prepared by Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) to provide information to those who live or work near the Incitec Pivot Fertilisers depot at
52 The Gardens Rd, Wee Waa.
If you require further information after reading this document, please contact the site on 02 6795 4664 or IPL's Corporate Affairs department on 03 8695 4400.
In the course of providing essential inputs for agriculture in the Wee Waa district, Incitec Pivot Fertilisers stores a quantity of liquid ammonia at the Wee Waa site.
Rigid regulations control the handling and storage of this material and detailed emergency plans are in place to manage any incident. Nevertheless, it is possible that an unplanned incident on site could create a health hazard for those who live or work near our site or visit the area. The company takes the safety and the interests of its employees and neighbours extremely seriously. For this reason, we are committed to advising the community what to do in the event of an emergency that may have impacts beyond the site.
Wee Waa Site Details
Incitec Pivot Fertilisers supplies and sells anhydrous ammonia either for use as an agricultural fertiliser under the brand name BIG N or for supply into various industrial and mining markets. Anhydrous ammonia is a gas at room temperature, but takes liquid form under pressure and this is how it is stored, transported and delivered. Incitec Pivot Fertilisers is the only supplier of BIG N fertiliser to Australian farmers.
Incitec Pivot Fertilisers’ Wee Waa site has served the local farming community for many years by supplying a range of fertiliser products.
Ammonia has been stored at the Wee Waa site for more than 40 years. The site operates with an average of seven personnel, although this number varies in line with seasonal demand. Like you, these people live in the Wee Waa area and, with their families, are part of the local community.
Ammonia is trucked to the site from Brisbane or Newcastle. Upon delivery to the site, it is placed into storage until it is reloaded into smaller trailers or trucks for transport and use on farms or into road tankers for supply to agricultural, industrial or mining customers further afield. The principal hazard presented to our neighbours is a potential ammonia leak.
Ammonia is classified as a Dangerous Good under Australian law and international conventions. It is a clear liquid or gas with a penetrating, irritating and strong-smelling odour, much like the smell of domestic cloudy ammonia cleaning products.
Its strong odour means that it is readily noticed at levels well below those which would cause any lasting health effects. In the event of a large leak or spill, because of ammonia’s pungent smell ammonia vapours may be noticed some distance from site (up to four kilometres for a large release), as well as potentially causing discomfort to those nearby.
Symptoms of exposure can range from breathing difficulties to irritation of the eyes which causes tears to form. There are no known long-term effects of exposure to lower levels of ammonia. However, in extreme circumstances, ingestion of concentrated ammonia fumes can cause serious injury or even be fatal.
Instructions to guide residents if there is a major leak or spill are provided elsewhere in this brochure.
Our Safety Framework
All IPL sites operate under a strict framework of federal, state and local government safety and environmental regulations. The company has procedures and controls in place to meet regulatory requirements. At Wee Waa, Incitec Pivot Fertilisers operates according to a prescribed Safety Management System which is designed to meet the requirements of Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation. The site has robust plans ready to be put into action to manage a range of possible emergencies, including a chemical release or fire.
IPL’s site has been classified as a Major Hazard Facility (MHF) under the relevant WHS legislation. This legislation regulates MHFs to minimise the likelihood of accidents at these sites and to limit adverse impacts. It imposes safety obligations on those involved with the storage and handling of hazardous materials.
Our emergency plans have been developed in conjunction with Fire & Rescue NSW and other local emergency services.
Once activated, the detailed site emergency plans will guide IPL’s immediate response to any incident, which may include advising neighbours if necessary. Minimising the potential for impact on the community is a key part of the plans, which cover potential incidents including fire, ammonia liquid or gas release, chemical spill or leak, bomb threat and natural disaster. In extreme circumstances, the site and possibly the surrounding area may be evacuated.