According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, Orica is “set to be rewarded with millions of dollars of taxpayers money to reduce its greenhouse emissions.”
Orica has been making the news fairly frequently recently for a number of chemical leaks including one where it took over 16 hours to alert environment authorities and almost 42 hours to alert health authorities about a hexavalent chromium leak in Stockton. According to Orica the leak wasn’t serious (and I should add that Health authorities agreed there wasn’t a serious threat to local residents health) , although residents were advised not to drink tank water, not to eat homegrown leafy vegetable and to empty their swimming pools and water tanks. It took Orica almost two months to admit it delayed alerting the public.
Now, according to the SMH report, Orica could receive a “windfall $13 million a year” because it hasn’t previously installed “cheap and easy-to-fit” technology to reduce its emissions of nitrous oxide (a potent greenhouse gas). Because it hasn’t taken this socially and environmentally responsible action in the past, it is now eligible for government assistance to reduce emissions.
Given the recent leaks, it is not surprising that many local residents are pushing for Orica to close. It certainly worries me we cannot trust many companies and I think I need to increase the focus on ethics in my community engagement course. I do not want to teach students to become expert at community engagement so that they can help give environmentally and socially damaging companies a social licence to operate.