July 26, 2021

Changes made after ship to shore pitch transfer incident

Koppers Australia has apologised and implemented improvement measures following a cargo hose failure during a transfer of soft pitch from a ship to its shore-side pipe at Newcastle’s Mayfield No. 7 berth in March.

Koppers has paid a $15,000 fine issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Plant manager Nick Moretti said Koppers has updated standard operating procedures and is changing the orientation of hoses and connection points on the wharf. Wifi has been set up so staff on the wharf can view Koppers’ main control system in real time via a tablet device, without having to wait for control centre updates via two-way radio.

He said when the incident occurred, staff immediately shut down the transfer, worked to clean up the spillage, and alerted the EPA and other relevant agencies. The failed hose, which was inspected only a week prior, has been replaced and two other hoses replaced as a precautionary measure. The pumps have undergone detailed inspections.

Regular pitch transfers since the incident have occurred without issue.

“We continue to review and refine operations to ensure environmental incidents do not occur,” Mr Moretti said.

“In consultation with the EPA, customers and the community, we continue to improve our performance and communication,” he said.

“Protecting the environment, our staff and the local community is our priority.”

Koppers’ Mayfield plant beneficially reuses coal tar from Australian steelworks to produce coal tar pitch – an essential raw material for Australian aluminium smelters – as well as carbon black feedstock oil, naphthalene, and timber preservation creosote. Its Mayfield plant has been operating for more than 50 years and employs around 60 people.

Media information: Craig Eardley on 0437 477 493