Children warned not to play outside three days too late after Orica chemical leak

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The O'Farrell Government's warning that children must not be allowed to play in gardens affected by the Orica chemical leak has come three days too late and has potentially put public safety at risk, Shadow Minister Luke Foley said today.

The NSW Opposition has demanded an independent inquiry into the O'Farrell Government's failure to warn Stockton residents about serious health risks following the Orica leak.

The public safety warning was only released last night - despite the O'Farrell Government confirming it was informed of the chemical leak on Tuesday morning.

A childcare centre in Stockton has been forced to close today following warnings children should not be allowed to play outside unless grass had been thoroughly washed.

Mr Foley has just visited the Stockton Early Childhood Leaning Centre.

"The Stockton Early Childhood Leaning Centre is closed, I watched workmen cleaning out the centre with industrial hoses," Mr Foley said.

"Yet the centre was open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday because the O'Farrell Government failed to alert parents and citizens about these major safety risks."

The NSW Health warning on the leak released today tells residents to: Wash any yellowish brown droplets on cars, outdoor objects or surfaces with tap water; Don’t drink water from rain water tanks; Don’t eat home grown leafy vegetables or fruits; Wash all home grown root vegetables; Wash your hands before eating or smoking after being outside; and Prevent your children from playing in the garden unless the lawn is washed by strong rain or tap water.

Timeline:

6.00pm, Monday 8 August - Orica ammonium nitrate facility near Stockton releases plumes of hexavalent chromium into the air.

10.30am, Tuesday 9 August - Office of Environment and Heritage notified of the leak and dispatches staff to the site to inspect and collect samples.

3.27pm, Thursday 11 August – Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker informs the public of the dangerous incident in a Ministerial Statement on the last Parliamentary sitting day for a week.