The announcement today that AGL has brought forward the closure of its Bayswater power station by two years, to 2033, must come with significant support for workers and a safe rehabilitation plan, environmental lawyers and advocates say.
It also means for another decade, the health of the Hunter Valley community will be at risk of the serious health effects which are caused by toxic pollution from coal-fired power stations.
Environmental Justice Australia Senior Lawyer Charley Brumby-Rendell said:
“For another decade, Bayswater will continue to release toxic air pollutants which cause higher rates of asthma in children, low birthweight babies, lung cancer, heart attacks and stroke,”
“Technology used widely around the world, proven to reduce emissions by up to 85 per cent, would significantly ease the health cost to the entire Hunter community.
“AGL’s announcement today also underscores the need for government, industry and community groups to work together now, to urgently implement a just transition plan as coal is phased out,”
“This must not only support workers into renewable industries, but also lay out the safe rehabilitation of all coal mines and coal ash dams.
“The Hunter community has suffered the severe health effects of toxic pollution from coal-fired power stations for decades and now, it’s time they are put first. The community has the right to know what AGL will do about the toxic and dangerous pollutants left in Bayswater’s wake.”
Hunter Community Environment Centre Senior Researcher Paul Winn said:
“The HCEC welcomes AGL’s announcement, however, much will be needed to decontaminate and rehabilitate the site, as well as to ensure the workforce are suitably employed in new industries in the Hunter. These issues are the responsibility of AGL and the state government,”
“Our research shows that Lake Liddell, an important water bird habitat, is contaminated with heavy metals. The coal ash dumps of both Bayswater and Liddell power stations must be made safe for biodiversity and farm irrigators downstream.
“On-site coal ash reuse industries, such as precast concrete manufacture, could go a long way to addressing these two issues.”
Media contact: Kathryn Lewis, EJA media advisor, 0411 670 886, [email protected]