Media release

Hazelwood inquiry findings critical of mine owner, government says Environmental Justice Australia

September 03, 2014

The Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Report, just tabled in Parliament made some important findings says Environmental Justice Australia. 

“Environmental Justice Australia pushed hard for this inquiry because we believed it was the only way for residents of Morwell to get the answers they deserve.” said Felicity Millner, Director of Litigation at Environmental Justice Australia who appeared at the Inquiry on behalf of Environment Victoria.

“No community should have to experience what Morwell went through during the Hazelwood crisis.

“GDF Suez and the DSDBI and WorkCover have been found wanting in their approaches to preventing fire and protecting the health of Morwell’s residents by the Inquiry.

“The Inquiry found that mine owner GDF Suez only did the bare minimum to prevent fire in exposed coal batters. It also found that the government agencies, DSDBI, and Workcover, took a passive approach to regulation and interpreted their powers narrowly. Both GDF Suez and the government agencies regulating the mine could have, and should have, done more to protect the people of Morwell.

“However, while the report goes some way towards addressing the needs of communities affected by mining, in our opinion it doesn’t go far enough.

“Our laws currently do not protect communities from fire, and other environmental disasters caused by mining.  The recommendations do not do enough to overcome these deficiencies.

“We would like have liked to see stronger findings and recommendations made in relation to the failings of the regulations and the regulators. We also think stronger reforms on mine rehabilitation and regulation of particulate matter than those recommended are required.

“There is nothing preventing the government from going beyond what the Inquiry has recommended and introducing robust regulations that will protect communities from the impacts on mining, and ensure disasters like the Hazelwood Mine Fire do not happen again.”

“Mining communities across Victoria are exposed to the same level of risk as Morwell, whether through fire or other environmental threats caused by mining.

“We call on the government to commit to regulatory reform to protect Victoria’s communities and its environment.”

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