Dangerous chemical moved from Sawyers Bay

Sawyers Bay. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Sawyers Bay. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Dunedin residents wary of any danger from ammonium nitrate being stored near them can rest easy.

The last of the ammonium nitrate being stored at Sawyers Bay has been moved to a purpose-built facility at the Macraes gold mine.

The explosion of 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port in August — which killed more than 200 people — led to some concerns about where it was being stored internationally.

Dunedin City Council city services general manager Robert West said the material at Sawyers Bay was inspected and stored appropriately.

He said the risk to surrounding properties was considered low, but he expected the chemical’s removal would be reassuring to West Harbour residents worried about its presence in the community.

The chemical compound is widely used around the world, as a fertiliser or for explosives in mining.

Mr West said the company responsible for the storage of the ammonium nitrate had always intended to move it once a new suitable facility was ready.

RedBull Powder Company manages the storage and transportation of ammonium nitrate for Oceana Gold’s Macraes mining operation.

The company was permitted to store up to 1800 tonnes at Sawyers Bay until the end of the year but had been storing much less there.

Conditions for storing the chemical were stringent, company general manager Chris Pilmer has said.

The Macraes operation in East Otago is the largest active gold mine in New Zealand.


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