Tantanoola Pulp Mill

ALMOST 24kg of high explosives were used to demolish the Tantanoola Pulp Mill’s recovery boiler on Friday.

After six months of planning, the 1000 tonnes of structural steel fell to the ground and other material was reduced to rubble in just a few seconds at 10am.

Safety was paramount throughout the procedure, according to Kimberly-Clark Australia Millicent Mill manager Scott Whicker.

The use of explosives to bring the structure to ground level was chosen as a result of safety issues, Mr Whicker said.

“The high explosives took out the legs of the building – the building had been totally stripped of all other materials other than steel,” he said.

“All the glass had been removed and everything was taken out.

“It was dropped to ground at 10am.

“It was done that way because it was safer to dismantle the boiler at ground level rather than have to have large cranes with people working at heights.

“It was also going to be quicker to do it the way we have now done it.

“The 1000 tonnes of structural steel is going to take a little while to get rid of, but the intent is still to have the site clear by the end of the year.”

The mill took two years to construct at a cost of $215m and officially opened in 1993.

During its peak, the plant employed 46 operators, 19 staff and 15 contract personnel.

KCA continued to spend several millions of dollars upgrading the site, particularly on its wood yard and pitch extraction project.

However, as the global financial crisis began gouging deep into Australia’s manufacturing and primary industries, KCA was also hit hard by Australia’s regulations, which enabled cheap tissue to be dumped on Australian shores.

A rising Australian dollar made it even tougher for Australian industries like KCA to compete on the world market.

KCA spent most of 2011 trying to sell the pulp mill, but no buyer was found.

By world standards, its capacity was small with the ability to only produce around 70,000 tonnes of pulp.

“This demolition is consistent with what we said we would do,” Mr Whicker said.

“A buyer wasn’t found for the place up to the end of last year.

“On January 25 last year we said the mill would operate for a year and we would seek a buyer and if a buyer wasn’t found we would be demolishing the site, and that is what we have done.

“The whole mill closed in November last year and the last of the employees were gone in early December and we have been dismantling the site since about March this year.”

At the time the mill closed last year, 65 people lost their jobs, along with 12 contractors.

Prior to the pulp mill being demolished, along with the closure of two tissue making plants at KCA’s Millicent mill, the Federal Government listed KCA as one of the country’s top 250 polluting companies.

KCA is now faced with paying a carbon tax, unlike some of its competitors which continue to dump cheap tissue on the Australian market.

From The Border Watch