10 July 2014

Blasting event at Werris Creek mine

The front page of yesterday’s Quirindi Advocate included a photo purporting to be of a blast plume from the Werris Creek Coal (WCC) Mine, taken on Tuesday 1 July, 2014 by a concerned Werris Creek resident.

In the interests of keeping the Werris Creek community fully informed, Whitehaven wishes to confirm the following:

  • The photo is of a single blast event that took place in the open cut area of the Werris Creek Mine on Wednesday 2 July as part of standard operational production activity. The blast event was located 3.7km away from Werris Creek town.
  • The blast created a nitrous oxide plume approximately 50m off the ground that moved in a
    northwesterly direction across vacant land owned by WCC, and dissipated 500m north of the Train Load Out facility.

A visual classification of the blast following its initiation confirmed that the intensity and extent of the plume was unexpected and unusual. The reasons for this are the subject of an internal review.
Despite the plume being highly visible for a short duration, it did not pose any short term or long term health risks to the community.

The Australian Explosives Industry and Safety Group Code of Practice 2011 indicates that there is only a risk to health if directly exposed to the plume (minimum of 10 minutes). Given the height off the ground and distance from the community, there was no risk of exposure to the plume. Plumes from blasts dissipate to background after a relatively short time, which was the case on this occasion.

Consistent with WCC’s Environmental Protection Licence and Project Approval conditions, the company has
reported the incident to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority.

Residents with any questions or concerns can contact the WCC Community Complaints Line on
(02) 6768 7001.


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