Hazelwood Mine Fire: One year on, community still waits for answers

One year on from the Hazelwood mine fire, the Latrobe Valley community are still waiting for answers on what effects the mine fire has had on their health.

Latrobe Valley community group Voices for the Valley has released a new report analysing 6,421 deaths over 10 years, showing that people in some postcodes were at much higher risk of death.

The report shows that, a year after the fire broke out, there are many Latrobe Valley residents who are still profoundly impacted from the Hazelwood fire both in terms of their health and financial well being.

Air pollution expert and biostatistician Associate Professor Adrian Barnett’s first report concluded that, when monthly temperatures are factored in, there is a 80% probability that there was an increase in death rates. He estimated that there were 11 additional deaths over the four postcodes during the time of the fire.

After reviewing two extra postcodes and including 10 years of data, this new analysis now confirms those findings. For the suburb of Traralgon there’s a 94% probability of higher deaths.

Recent research has shown that less advantaged Australian communities are disproportionately affected by air pollution.

Latrobe Valley Residents have already spent a year worrying about the long term effects of the air pollution. The new Victorian government has committed to reopen the Hazelwood inquiry to look at this issue. They must lock in a date as soon as possible, so that the community can finally have the answers they so desperately need.

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