Norsk Hydro Hydro expands independent review and launches audit, following identification of more untreated rainwater discharges from Alunorte
Hydro expands the scope of the ongoing independent review of Alunorte by Brazilian environmental consultancy SGW Services to include all interfaces with areas adjacent to the refinery operation. Hydro's Internal Audit will conduct a full review of all licenses, complementing SGW's review of Alunorte's permits and relevant legislation.
The decision to expand the scope of SGW's mandate and to launch an internal audit follows an infraction notice from Pará State Environment and Sustainability Secretary - SEMAS on 15 March.
The notice relates to an unlicensed connection between the Alunorte refinery and a licensed drainage canal from the adjacent Albras aluminium plant, leading to discharge of untreated rainwater from the roof of the coal storage shed at Alunorte into the Pará River through this internal canal. Subsequently, Hydro discovered an additional inflow of water to the canal from the former hydrate storage area.
"We have discharged untreated rain and surface water into the Pará River. This is completely unacceptable and in breach with what Hydro stands for. On behalf of the company, I personally apologize to the communities, authorities and the society. This underlines the importance of the thorough review of Alunorte, including interfaces with adjacent operations to verify compliance with licenses. We need the full picture so we can put in place necessary actions," says Hydro President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg.
According to the license, all rain and surface water from Alunorte refinery area should have been led to the water treatment system. Tests by SEMAS showed that water instead flowed into the canal stemming from Albras. These discharges are independent of the extreme rainfall experienced in February.
Following an internal review, there is also indication that surface water from the former hydrate storage area could have been led into the Albras canal.
The inlet from the coal storage shed has now been sealed. Hydro is working on finding the best solution to close the inlet from the former hydrate area.
As earlier communicated, the findings of the internal review and first phase of the external review will be presented on April 9, together with further necessary measures.
Hydro is South America's biggest aluminium company after acquiring Brazilian mining company Vale's aluminium assets in the state of Pará in 2011. Alunorte is the world's largest alumina refinery, employs around 2,000 people and has a nameplate capacity of an annual 6.3 million tonnes. Hydro owns 92.1 percent of Alunorte.
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