Gladstone suburb hit by chemical waste after failure at QAL

The refining process at QAL creates the toxic by-product 'red mud', which is stored in nearby dams (pictured). A gasket failure at QAL's refinery has caused waste material, which appears as a fine red spray, to disperse towards Sun Valley.
The refining process at QAL creates the toxic by-product 'red mud', which is stored in nearby dams (pictured). A gasket failure at QAL's refinery has caused waste material, which appears as a fine red spray, to disperse towards Sun Valley.

A MECHANICAL failure at Gladstone's QAL plant has released an unknown amount of chemical waste into a residential area.

A letter from the company to Gladstone residents advises a gasket at the site failed on Tuesday night.

It says this caused an unspecified amount of the waste material, which appears as a fine red spray, to disperse towards the suburb of Sun Valley.

A statement from QAL said the release consisted of a fine spray of red mud slurry generated during the digestion process.

The release posed no risk to health as the concentration was well below safe exposure levels, it said.

"The faulty unit was promptly shut down and QAL's First Response Team responded rapidly to the incident. No injuries occurred," the statement read.

"Regulatory authorities have been advised and a full incident investigation is underway."

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection says it is investigating the release of "an unknown amount of caustic fumes".

Executive director Reuben Carlos said following notification, EHP officers were immediately on site to assess the cause of the incident and extent of the impact.

"Caustic fumes have the potential to cause skin and respiratory irritation, damage paintwork of cars and houses and to impact on plant and animals," Mr Carlos said.

To date, there have been no reports of ill health associated with the incident.

QAL says neighbours who may have been affected by the incident have been notified.

Community members can contact QAL on 1800 181 110 if they have any queries or concerns.

Queensland Alumina's refinery in Gladstone is the largest in the world.

The refining process creates the toxic by-product 'red mud', which is stored in nearby dams.

Topics:  chemical waste, gladstone, qal, sun valley



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