NSW Sugar is reminding all molasses users to handle the product with care after a drum exploded at a Lismore depot.

The drum lodged in the second storey of the eave of the building it was stored beside on a pallet with other 205-litre (44-gallon) metal drums.

NSW Sugar CEO Chris Connors said molasses may appear benign but it can expand rapidly under heat due to fermentation.
Normally the bung of a drum would burst off or the drum split if heat builds pressure.

In extreme cases, like the Lismore incident, he said the effect is more spectacular and highly dangerous.

“NSW Sugar obviously wants to avoid this situation to ensure the safety of people along the supply chain through to the user on-farm,” Mr Connors said.

“We strongly recommend molasses is stored away from direct sunlight in strong, clean vessels with adequate space for expansion inside the container.”

The NSW Fire Brigade and WorkCover NSW have inspected the site.

Molasses is one of several products made from the sugar cane plant during milling and processing.

It is high in energy and minerals including calcium, potassium, zinc, copper and iron.

It is mainly used on the North Coast as a supplementary livestock feed.

NSW Sugar says users with drums or tanks of molasses should ensure the following:

  • Never fill to the top, especially in hot conditions
  • Ensure the storage vessel has space for the molasses to expand
  • Ensure storage vessels are strong enough to hold molasses
  • Never store in direct sunlight or heated areas
  • Don’t overtighten drum bungs
  • Use your oldest molasses first
  • If unsure of how to safely handle molasses ask the vendor or call NSW Sugar.

NSW Sugar is continuing to investigate the incident in conjunction with customers, users and authorities.