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Environment Protection Authority

EPA continues to investigate chlorine incident at Beresfield

Media release: 23 March 2016

The EPA is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding an incident where a number of employees at the Bartter Chicken Processing Plant at Beresfield were overcome by chlorine dioxide fumes on 7 March 2016. Bartter is a subsidiary company of Baiada.

As part of its investigation into the incident, the EPA has requested a detailed incident report from the company. This must be with the EPA by 31 March 2016.

 “At this stage investigations are focussing on whether the dosing system that mixes chlorine dioxide with water in the sterilisation process was operating correctly”, EPA Hunter Manager Adam Gilligan said.

 “SafeWork NSW is investigating the incident and has issued improvement notices requiring the company to install alarms to alert staff to incorrect dosage and automated system shut-down. EPA officers are continuing to work closely with SafeWork NSW.

 “When the EPA investigation has been completed, the findings will be released. The investigation will also consider whether regulatory action is justified and if additional operational or environmental safeguards are required.”

 Background 

  • Shortly after 9am on 7 March 2016, Bartter reported to the EPA that there had been a discharge of chlorine dioxide at the plant. This resulted in staff being evacuated. Chlorine dioxide is used for disinfection and sterilisation.  
  • Fire and Rescue NSW Hazmat attended the incident and was the lead combat agency. NSW Ambulance and the EPA also attended. 
  • A number of Bartter staff were affected by exposure to the gas. The EPA has been advised that small number of staff were directly affected and admitted to hospital for overnight observation. Other staff were taken by bus to hospital but were not admitted.  
  • On the day of the incident, once Fire and Rescue NSW Hazmat had declared the site safe, EPA staff inspected the premises. No offsite impacts were detected and the EPA understands that at no stage did the incident pose a health or environmental risk outside the premises.  
  • A SafeWork NSW inspector visited the site and issued a notice to the employer to install revised alarm systems.

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 23 March 2016