Toxic Evasions
Attempts to date to discover how much Orica cyanide
is on the move in New South Wales, Australia
17 April 2007


New Happy Wheels mural painted by Elspbeth Jones and mounted in time for the Kyogle Freight train blockade 22 March 2007

Cyanide Watch wants to know exactly how much cyanide is being made by Orica and transported by rail Gladstone to Brisbane, Brisbane to Sydney, through Bankstown, Auburn and Parramatta in and west across across the Blue Mountains and through Sydney's water supply catchment.

Here below is the state of the denial as of April 2007.

Three evasive answers: the first from the NSW Government in response to a question put by The Honorable Lee Rhiannon in the NSW Legislative Council; the second the response an inquiry by the Manager of Environmental Services for Kyogle Shire Council to the cyanide carrier Pacific National and made public in a report to Council 16 September 2007; and the third a response to a question put by me to the Chairman of the Board and the CEO of Orica Australia Ltd.


Ms Rhiannon to the Minister for Commerce, Minister for Finance, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Vice President of the Executive Council representing the Attorney General, Minister for the Environment, and Minister for the Arts -

1. How much sodium cyanide each year will be transported to the Lake Cowal Gold Mine via the Blue Mountains?
2. Considering the Blue Mountains is the water catchment for most of Sydney's water, what emergency measures will be put in place in the event of a spill of sodium cyanide?
3. What training has been undertaken by Blue Mountain's emergency services' workers so they will act appropriately in the case of a spill of sodium cyanide?
1. What are the procedures to be followed if there is a spill of sodium cyanide in the Blue Mountains?
2. Have these procedures been made publicly available?
3. If so, where?

Answer 29 August 2006 -

I have been advised by the Minister for the Environment that the answer to the honourable member's question is:

The NSW Government has comprehensive arrangements in place to ensure the safe storage and transportation of all chemicals, including hazardous chemicals such as cyanide. The specific requirements of licensing and standards for road transport are found in the Road and Rail Transport (Dangerous Goods) (Roads) Regulations 1998. Similarly, transport by rail is regulated under the Road and Rail Transport (Dangerous Goods (Rail) Regulations 1999.

New South Wales also has comprehensive arrangements in place to manage emergencies relating to the transport of all chemicals including hazardous chemicals. These arrangements include a State Disaster Plan with a sub-plan for hazardous materials emergencies that may occur.

Specific emergency management plans such as the "Hazardous Materials/Chemical, Biological, Radiological Sub Plan" detail the procedures to be followed in the even of incidents involving different types of hazardous materials. These emergency management plans are publicly available on the Office for Emergency Services website at .

Questions relating to specific training and exercises for staff of the emergency services in the Blue Mountains should be addressed to the Minister for Justice, Minister for Juvenile Justice, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Lands and Minister for Rural Affairs and Leader of the House in the Legislative Council, the Honourable Tony Kelly MLC.


Written in response to an inquiry by the Manager of Environmental Services for Kyogle Shire Council and made public in a report to Council 16 September 2007.

"Thank you for your email. Unfortunately Pacific National is not at liberty to divulge such information to your Council. This relates primarily to the current clime of security sensitive issues. This stance in also in accordance with agreements and understandings made with many organisations relating to rail security.

Divulging any information could also constitute a potential breach of our customer's information/confidentiality protocols.

That said, please be advised that all goods entrusted to Pacific National, are handled and transported in strict adherence to - and in accordance with various legislative requirements, rail transport regulations and codes of practices applicable throughout Australia.

Pacific National's policies and procedures also reflect these requirements.

May I suggest that Council contact the manufacturers and distributors of this product who may be willing to impart this information to you.


Anthony Pospisil,
manager Environmental Risk and Compliance
Pacific National
Level 10, 628 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Vic, 3000
Ph: 03 8414 8705
Fax: 03 8414 8767


12 April 2007

Mr Donald P Mercer,╩Chairman of the Board of Directors
Mr Graeme R Liebelt, Chief Executive Officer
Orica Australia Ltd,
1 Nicholson Street

dear Sirs,

Cyanide Watch is a direct action campaign to make visible the hazard╩created╩for water ways and the people who depend on them by the transport of bulk transport of sodium cyanide that you manufacture and ship.

Please be honest with us, your share holders and the Australian people generally.

Just how much cyanide are you shipping annually down the rail from Gladstone to Brisbane, Brisbane to Sydney and from Sydney west across the Blue Mountains?

Yours respectfully,

Graeme Dunstan

Dear Mr Dunstan

Thank you for your interest in Orica and its operations.

Orica is a global leader in the provision of services the mining industry. The supply of mining chemicals, including sodium cyanide, is of great importance to the Australian mining industry and plays a significant role in the Australian economy.

Orica uses world's best practice in the manufacture and transport of sodium cyanide and is particularly aware of its obligations with regard to safety and security of product.

It is for that reason that we do not disclose details of our product movements other than where we are obliged to meet any regulatory requirements. I'm sure you can appreciate that we would not want to compromise our adherence to strictest standards of community safety by divulging security sensitive information.

Orica is a founding signatory to the International Cyanide Management Code which can be found at In addition, all of Orica's sodium cyanide packaging and practices comply with Australian laws and international codes and standards.

Once again, thank you for your interest in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Avramopoulos
General Manager
Orica Mining Chemicals


These are words of consolation and deception.

Here's a story:

Passing through Forbes on my way to Lake Cowal 5 April 2007 I had a chance meeting with the driver of an eastbound Pacific National freight train at the old Forbes Rail Station, now the Tourism Information Centre. We had both stopped for a piss.

"How much cyanide did you carry westward?" I asked.

He did the sums as he hurried to the toilet, me trailing behind.

"A total of 12,000 tonnes on three separate freight trains on one day."

That's a lot of secret cyanide!

That also means a lot of water permanently poisoned: 12,000 tonnes of sodium cyanide broken down to 2% solution for leaching gold needs 600 million liters.

Let the cyanide criminals and their lackeys in government dance in denial as if bare-footed on hot asphalt! The more they deny and the longer they deny, the more the alarm there will be when the facts of the hazard become public.

My strategy is to keep on stopping cyanide freight trains and demanding the answers directly from the drivers until Orica and the NSW government is dragged into the light of public accountability.

Watch for news of upcoming freight blockades.

For the Earth!

To the dust!

Graeme Dunstan
Cyanide Watch at Sandy beach, near Woolgoolga NSW, 7 September 2006

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