Concerns of ‘Beirut blast’ raised over Gracemere development
COMMUNITY concerns are growing that Gracemere might be subject to a blast similar to the one seen in Beirut earlier this month, but residents can be assured this would not happen.
A development application was proposed to Rockhampton Regional Council in July for a urea-ammonium nitrate liquid fertiliser manufacturing shed at Middle Rd, Gracemere.
The Beirut blast earlier this month was caused by a detonation of 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which had been stored for years at Beirut's port.
The incident reportedly killed more than 150 people and injured around 5000, causing financial losses between $10 to $15 billion as more than 300,000 residents lost their homes.
This proposed Gracemere development involves urea-ammonium nitrate, to be used as a liquid fertiliser, a different type of chemical than the one involved in the Beirut blast.
It would be limited to 5000 tonnes per year and the application notes the manufacturing of urea-ammonium nitrate does not involve chemical reactions.
Rocky's Own Transport is the owner of the property and developer for the project.
Gracemere Community Voice Association held a regular meeting a few weeks ago and concerns of the development were raised.
The association has organised with Rocky's Own Transport to have another community meeting where concerned residents will be able to raise these issues.
Association publicity officer and vice-president Chris Bailey said the meeting would allow residents to understand what the development would involve.
"It is important for them to get the right facts," he said.
"Otherwise people don't know what they are talking about."
The new development, if approved, would employ five new staff.
"Anything that is going to bring employment to the area is a good thing," Mr Bailey said.
Addressing the issues, Rocky's Own Transport's Rod Carige said the product used in this development was a fertiliser and did not hold the same properties which would create a blast.
He said the urea-ammonium nitrate is a non-dangerous product.
It has been made for agricultural businesses and the reason it has been created is because it is better for the environment and the reef.
Mr Carige said he was more than happy to put residents' minds at ease at the community meeting.
"I am hoping people will understand what is going on," he said.
Mr Carige said the manufacturing shed would only involve mixing two products.
He noted two years ago this type of application wouldn't have had to go through council approval, however legislation had changed.
It is also integral to note this development hasn't been approved yet and is undergoing assessment by Rockhampton Regional Council officers.
Now with the community concern raised on social media, Mr Carige is concerned it won't be approved.
"I will be very disappointed if they do knock it back," he said.
The project has been heavily researched and the documentation accompanying the application includes a 105-page EPA report, confirming the developer has a full understanding of what it involves.
The Morning Bulletin previously reported on the development application when it was lodged.
At the time, Rockhampton Regional Council planning portfolio councillor Ellen Smith provided comments, stating council would be conducting a thorough assessment for this application.
"For council to consider approving the development application we would need to be satisfied that the proposal wouldn't cause any off side impacts that could generate a 'nuisance' to surrounding areas," she previously said.
"For example, the site is located near several houses to the east and south east. The developers will need to show that these properties won't experience a negative impact from the manufacturing.
"The developer will be required to give public notification, and that will allow people to share their support or objections.
"All of this information will be considered before a decision is made as to whether this can go ahead."