Delta Electricity, the company that said it wants to build a ‘Hazelwood replacement’ coal-fired power station, has a ‘bad neighbour’ reputation because of the toxic coal pollution that billows from its Vales Point power station, causing health problems in nearby communities, Environmental Justice Australia said.
Trevor St Baker — chairman of Delta Electricity, which owns Vales Point on the NSW central coast — has said he wants to build “a Hazelwood replacement as a HELE (high-efficiency, low-emissions) plant. Alternatively we could bid in NSW for an 800MW HELE plant at Vales Point…”
EJA researcher Dr James Whelan said communities should be extremely sceptical about Delta’s claims that a new coal-fired power station would be ‘low emission’.
“Delta’s actions at Vales Point have cemented its reputation as a bad neighbour with a lax approach to environmental regulations and a disregard for community health,” Dr Whelan said.
“If Delta does proceed with plans for a new power station, some poor community — most likely in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria or the NSW central coast — is going to be hit with more health problems as a result of the toxic pollution that accompanies every coal-fired power station.
“Coal-fired power stations emit more than 30 toxic substances and are Australia’s biggest source of fine particles (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).
“These substances cause and contribute to asthma, lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, respiratory disease, headaches and nausea in nearby communities.
“People should be extremely sceptical about claims that a new power station would be any cleaner than existing coal-burning facilities in Australia.
“In his talk about a new coal-fired power station Mr St Baker has not mentioned anything about including best available pollution reduction technologies, so local communities would still be exposed to toxic air pollution.
“Coal-fired power stations in the US, Europe and Japan are compelled to fit bag filters to control particle emissions, flue gas desulfurisation to control sulfur dioxide emissions and selective catalytic reduction to control emissions of oxides of nitrogen.
“Around the world the trend is away from coal-fired power — Australia is the land of plenty for renewable energy — there is no need for us to consider new coal-fired power stations,” he said.