Media release

NSW Government’s Inquiry into toxic coal ash a huge win for affected communities

October 03, 2019

Authors of groundbreaking research into toxic coal ash waste in Australia are welcoming an Upper House Inquiry into coal ash waste, launched yesterday by the NSW government.

Environmental Justice Australia released a report, Unearthing Australia’s Toxic Coal Ash Legacy, earlier this year and has been calling for Parliamentary Inquiries in all states that house coal ash dumps.

“EJA welcomes the NSW government’s Inquiry into toxic coal ash dumps that are putting local communities and the environment at serious risk. This is a huge win for communities in NSW who live near coal-fired power stations and are concerned about this huge toxic waste issue on their doorstep,” said Bronya Lipski, Lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia and author of the report.

“Coal ash is an enormous toxic legacy issue for Australia that largely flies under the radar, despite it being one of Australia’s biggest waste problems and a huge risk to human and environmental health.

“Our research into toxic coal ash waste in Australia, released earlier this year, recommends a Parliamentary Inquiry into coal ash management and rehabilitation. This is an important step to understanding the risks associated with these enormous toxic sites and to protect human and environmental health.

“There is a disturbing lack of information about coal ash dumps in the public domain in NSW, and this inquiry should provide a lot more information about how they are regulated, who is responsible, who’s footing the bill, and what comprehensive rehabilitation and closure planning should look like.”

“This inquiry will shed some much-needed light on an opaque regulatory area and pave the way for clarity and community understanding on how the NSW Government, and the EPA, need to deal with this enormous ticking time-bomb,” Bronya Lipski concluded.

The NSW government’s Inquiry will inquire into and report on:• the costs of remediating toxic coal ash dumps including at the Mount Piper, Bayswater, Liddell, Vales Point, and Eraring power stations,

  • prospective timing of government expenditure in relation to the remediation of these ash dumps,
  • the economic and employment opportunities associated with coal ash re-use, site remediation and repurposing of land,
  • adequacy and effectiveness of the current regulatory regime for ensuring best practice remediation of coal ash repositories,
  • mitigation of actual or perceived conflicts of interest arising from the NSW state having ongoing liability for ash dump remediation costs, the quantum of which will be impacted by government policy and regulatory action,
  • and risks and liabilities associated with inadequate remediation including community and environmental health impacts.

Public submissions are open and can be made through the Inquiry website.

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