Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), a not-for-profit legal centre, wants to hear about people’s concerns and experiences with air pollution in the Latrobe Valley at a community health workshop at the Gippsland Multicultural Centre, 100 Buckley Street, Morwell, on Thursday 23 March at 6:30pm.
Environmental Justice Australia’s lawyers, along with oncology pharmacist and clean air researcher Clare Walters, hope to find out more about the health impact of air pollution from coal-fired power stations.
“We want to ask questions about air pollution in the Valley, hear people’s stories and empower people to demand better air quality and health outcomes for their community,” said EJA workshop facilitator Bronya Lipski.
“I grew up in the Valley and my family knows first-hand about air quality issues and health.
“As a child, one of my sisters had chronic asthma and doctors would tell my parents, ‘take your daughter out of the Valley to get better.’
“If the air is ‘as good as Melbourne’s’, as authorities sometimes say, then why do so many families in the Latrobe Valley have stories like mine?
“Without access to air pollution monitoring data and without documenting people’s experiences, it’s difficult to dispute the Victorian Environment Protection Authority’s claim the air quality is fine.”
Data reported by the power stations to the National Pollutant Inventory for the 2014-15 financial year shows 122 million kilos of sulphur dioxide, 80 million kilos of nitrogen oxides, 13.2 million kilos of PM10, and 4.25 million kilos of PM2.5 were emitted into the Latrobe Valley air.
“People have a right to know how pollution affects health, what they can do to protect themselves and how they can enforce their rights to better regulation of air pollution,” Ms Lipski said.
“While many in the Valley are anxious about the closure of Hazelwood, it’s important people understand what they are exposed to and what they can do about it to make the Latrobe Valley as healthy a community as possible.”