Toxic spill at sugar mill

Broadwater Sugar Mill
Broadwater Sugar Mill

BROADWATER Sugar Mill was evacuated yesterday afternoon after some of the highly-toxic metal mercury was spilt.

At 2.30pm yesterday, NSW Fire and Rescue rushed to the Pacific Hwy mill where a large amount of mercury had leaked out of a container.

A NSW Fire and Rescue spokesman confirmed that HAZMAT personnel had cleaned up 900 ml of mercury that had spilled outside the factory.

It's believed the spill occurred when a container of mercury was dropped, the spokesman said.

Five other "older" containers of mercury were also collected by the HAZMAT crew and placed in a hazardous material bin and handed back to the mill to deal with.

A government guide to cleaning-up mercury declares a spill larger than two tablespoons as "large" because of the increased risk of mercury vapour exposure during the clean up.

A 25m exclusion zone was set up by firefighters at the Broadwater Mill yesterday afternoon and 30 workers were evacuated.

No one was injured in the spill but Lismore Police Inspector Rob Cairnduff said one man, thought to be a driver, was seeking medical treatment as a precaution.

Details of what the mercury was used for were not available as The Northern Star went to print last night.

NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative Ltd chief executive officer Chris Connors said he was waiting on a full safety report that would determine the cause of the spill.

"There is going to be a full investigation and it will look into how it's stored," he said.

"We are waiting on a full safety report into what happened."

A Workcover NSW spokesman said an inspector was on the way to the mill at 5.30pm yesterday.

NSW Health and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) have also been notified.

Topics:  mercury

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