Sulphuric acid spill 'no risk'

Acid that spilled from this Rio Tinto site reportedly caused little environmental damage. .
Acid that spilled from this Rio Tinto site reportedly caused little environmental damage. . Chrissy Harris

INVESTIGATIONS are underway into a sulphuric acid spill from the Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun site on Sunday.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has undertaken urgent action following advice it received on Monday about a spill of about 25,000 litres of sulphuric acid from the site, 10km north-west of Gladstone.

The spill occurred during a period of heavy rain, with most of the acid allegedly being washed into the on-site stormwater systems and into Boat Creek at the time.

Investigations are continuing, but at this stage DERM has found no evidence that environmental harm has been caused by the spill.

A Rio Tinto spokesman said following the company's preliminary investigations, it was estimated that only 3000 litres were spilled in the process area.

“The vast majority of this was contained on site and only a small amount of sulphuric acid and sea water mix was released into the creek,” he said.

DERM Regional Services director Joe Pappalardo said inspections by DERM officers in Boat Creek and further downstream in Port Curtis had found no evidence of environmental harm, suggesting that the recent rain and high tides in Boat Creek had helped to dilute the acid and flush it through the system relatively quickly.

The drain valve was removed from service as soon as the incident occurred.

It will remain out of operation until it has been fully repaired and the investigation is complete.

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