The imminent closure of Hazelwood, Australia’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power station, will greatly improve community health in the polluted Latrobe Valley, says Environmental Justice Australia today in the wake of reports of its possible closure as early as April 2017.
Environmental Justice Australia worked closely with Voices of the Valley in response to the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry and are campaigning for national clean air laws.
EJA researcher Dr James Whelan said, “In the panic reaction to news that Engie, Hazelwood’s French owners, is considering closure, few are acknowledging the good news that communities closest to the power station will breathe more easily once it switches off.”
“Children with asthma, elderly people with respiratory problems and the entire Valley’s population of 125,000 will reap enormous health benefits once Hazelwood closes and clean energy like solar and wind take its place.”
The string of health problems associated with coal-fired power generation include respiratory and cardiovascular illness, cancer and premature death.
“For too long, the health costs of generating Victoria’s electricity from brown coal have been unfairly dumped on the people of the Latrobe Valley, with the townships of Traralgon, Moe and Morwell home to Australia’s four most polluting coal-fired power stations.”
It is not fair for 2 per cent of Victoria’s population to carry the state’s health burden of burning brown coal in dirty old power stations.”
Collectively, the Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang A and B power stations emit more than 4 million kilograms of dangerous fine particle pollution (PM2.5), 79 million kilograms of nitrous oxides and 122 million kilograms of sulfur dioxide each year.
“The Andrews government has a duty to plan and assist the transition to clean renewable energy in power station communities like the Latrobe Valley to ensure these health benefits are not accompanied by unemployment and social and economic disadvantage.”