Dangerous Substances Act

Dangerous Substances

In 2005 the Tasmanian Government passed the Dangerous Substances (Safe Handling) Act and in 2008, the Dangerous Substances (Safe Handling) Regulations.

The purpose of this legislation is to protect people, property and the environment from harm from dangerous substances by ensuring these substances are handled safely. The legislation also ensures that facilities, such as Nyrstar Hobart (NH), operate in a safe manner. A number of obligations are placed on occupiers, employees, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of dangerous substances by this legislation.

On 21st April 2010, NH was gazetted as a Major Hazards Facility (MHF).  There are several other companies in Tasmania that have been classified as an MHF such as Norske Skog and Beaconsfield Mine.  These places have the same obligations and requirements as NH.  Once classified as an MHF there is a 16 month period that NH has to meet the legislation and submit certain documents.  There are four main bodies of work that need to be sumitted to WST:

  • A Systematic Risk Assessment of our dangerous substances is to be submitted.  This includes the risk they pose and how we control them.
  • Our Emergency Plans and Procedures
  • Our Safety Management System; and finally
  • A Safety Case, which includes the risk assessments, emergency plans and safety management system as well as how we communicate with community and educate and train our people.

Work started on ensuring we would meet our obligations in 2009, when workshops were held to risk assess the dangerous substances in each of the Departments. These workshops involved a range of people including Operators, Maintainers, Engineers, Technical and Safety. The workshops allowed for the identification of Dangerous Substance Emergencies – those events that have the potential to kill people or cause catastrophic harm to the environment or plant/equipment.

What are our Dangerous Substance Emergencies?

Through the workshops that involved many people from site, a total of 13 dangerous substance emergencies (DSEs) that could be initiated at NH were identified. A number of the identified DSEs have a very low likelihood of occurring and low risk scores.

The top 4 Dangerous Substance Emergencies for us are:

  1. LOC from Leach and Purification Plant Tanks and Pipelines.
  2. Uncontrolled discharge of SO2 and SO3 from Acid Plant and Roaster.
  3. LOC of Spent Zinc Sulphate Solution from Tanks.
  4. LOC of Chlorine Dosing Chemicals

The Systematic Risk Assessment submission to WST provided in-depth information on how we prevent these events from occurring and how we mitigate the consequences if they do occur. The submission on our Emergency Plans and Procedures also provides information on how our EROs will respond in the event of an emergency.  Recently our Safety Case was submitted to WST and work continues with them to ensure that all requirements are fully met.

Once the Safety Case is apporved by WST and they are satisfied that we adequately manager our dangerous substances and associated risks we will be granted a licence to operate as an MHF.  Periodically WST will then come and undertake audits on-site to ensure we are operating as we indicated in our Safety Case.  In five years time, the process starts again as we review and update our Safety Case and re-submit to WST.