Rio Tinto Alcan, Yarwun.
Rio Tinto Alcan, Yarwun. Tom Huntley

Rio begins stoppage at refinery after residue flows to creek

RIO Tinto Alcan has begun a controlled, temporary stoppage of its Yarwun refinery after the site's Residue Management Area started flowing from the spillway into Gravel Creek this afternoon.

Torrential rainfall from ex-cyclone Oswald has caused the RMA to run at capacity and consequently spill neutralised sea water into the creek.

Rio Tino Alcan said it was unlikely the spillage would have any effect on the environment.

The RMA is located 18km west of Gladstone and about 5km south-west of the refinery.

Rio Tinto Alcan chief operating officer Pacific Armando Torres said the plant had already been set to run at significantly reduced rates in light of the unprecedented weather events.

"We have notified our neighbours and all residents bordering Gravel Creek," Mr Torres said.

"We are working with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to monitor and manage the situation, including undertaking regular water quality sampling in the creek."

The stoppage follows a range of actions taken over the past few days to protect people and the environment, he said.