The proposed development in Gracemere's Industrial Area.
The proposed development in Gracemere's Industrial Area.

‘DEADLY CONCERNED’: Locals’ fears over fertiliser plant

GRACEMERE residents have made clear their stance on the area’s proposed fertiliser shed following a community forum held earlier this week.

More than 80 locals from across the region descended on Gracemere RSL on Wednesday night eager to voice both their concerns and frustrations over the Middle Rd project.

A development application was proposed to Rockhampton Regional Council in July, though angered residents say they only learned of it two weeks ago.

The site would house urea-ammonium nitrate to be used as a liquid fertiliser, which many believe to be the same chemical involved in the devastating Beirut blast earlier this month.

Fears of a repeat incident similar to the Charleville explosion in 2014 were also made clear.

This pictures created from UGC footage taken on August 4, 2020 and filmed from a high-rise shows a fireball exploding while smoke is billowing at the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut. – Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky.
This pictures created from UGC footage taken on August 4, 2020 and filmed from a high-rise shows a fireball exploding while smoke is billowing at the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut. – Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky.

Addressing the room, Rocky’s Own Transport CEO Bryan Smith was eager to put to bed any fears surrounding the chemical’s ability to cause a deadly explosion.

“The one thing I want to get out there, what we’re proposing to do with the processing plant out there is not explosives. It’s not ammonium nitrate, it can’t go bang. It’s just not possible.

“The processing plant that we’ve put in an application in for is not that same product used in Beirut.”

Mr Smith said the product was legally classified as a non-dangerous good and would be confined to a bunded area on-site.

While explosive components were an obvious concern, locals also took issue with the site’s newly established drainage system.

Rocky's Own transport company CEO Bryan Smith addressed community concerns over the plant.
Rocky's Own transport company CEO Bryan Smith addressed community concerns over the plant.

The system, they said, would likely create further deluge issues for surrounding properties at times of rainfall.

“You’ve got no idea how much rain comes down, all that water runs down that hill and into my property,” said a Macquarie St resident.

“I’m deadly concerned about a major spill or truck failure there,” he added.

Noise pollution, Mr Smith admitted, may prove to be an issue for the suburban area given the many road trains which currently travel through the area.

The site would bring approximately 15 vehicles a day into the area, with a proposed 24/7, seven days a week operation period.

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The development is yet to be approved by Rockhampton Regional Council.
The development is yet to be approved by Rockhampton Regional Council.

“If something goes wrong there, it’s catastrophic for the people in the area,” said Gracemere resident Kate Slade.

She labelled the proposed site as “the worst possible spot”, grilling the professionals as to why they opted not to develop in a heavy industry zone.

Concerns over environmental contamination were also a heavy theme across the evening.

However, Mr Smith assured community members the facility was under stringent guidelines imposed by the State Government and Environmental Protection Agency.

Following the forum’s completion, Mr Smith said he believed discussions were received well.

The proposed shed structure for manufacturing urea-ammonium nitrate liquid fertiliser on Middle Rd, Gracemere.
The proposed shed structure for manufacturing urea-ammonium nitrate liquid fertiliser on Middle Rd, Gracemere.

“Communication is always better than no communication. It was good to hear people’s concerns and it was good to get the opportunity to give our view and trying to allay some of those concerns.”

He also said community concerns were understandable given speculation of the product’s rumoured explosive capabilities.

“If that was in my neighbourhood I would want to be here tonight and asking the same questions.”

The plant is still under consideration by Rockhampton Regional Council.