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Speak up for Hazelwood mine rehabilitation

The mine that fuelled Hazelwood power station is bigger than Melbourne’s CBD. Cleaning it up will be the largest rehabilitation project Victoria has ever seen.

It will also set a precedent for the remaining mines in the Latrobe Valley. Soon, Engie will prepare an Environmental Effects Statement to outline the impacts of its proposals to rehabilitate the Hazelwood mine site, and the community has the right to have a say on what Engie should assess. 

We have a critical window to shape what happens next. It will take all of us, speaking up, to get the mine cleaned up properly so the Valley can move forward.  

Together, we need show a huge groundswell of community concern over this issue, so Engie and the Victorian government realise they need to step up.  

Here are some powerful ways you can help make a splash:

  1. Send a message to ABC Gippsland

  2. Write a letter to the editor of the Latrobe Valley Express and The Age.

These are powerful actions to take, and you don’t need to be an expert.  

Contact ABC Gippsland and ask them to investigate

ABC Gippsland’s Facebook page alone has 85,000 followers, so it’s a platform with powerful reach. When issues start gaining traction, ABC producers will notice – and (we hope!) investigate in news articles and radio programs. 

Here are some ways you can contact ABC Gippsland:  

  • SMS a short comment or question to ABC Gippsland’s talkback SMS line on 0467 842 722 (standard SMS rates apply).  
  • Send an email to ABC Gippsland outlining your concerns: [email protected]
  • Call ABC Gippsland on 1300 295 222. Before you call, prepare one or two key points you want to make, and try to include the action you’d like to see. Think about what might interest and appeal to your audience (focus on them, rather than the host). You’ll probably only get 30 seconds on air, so get to the point quickly and don’t ramble! 

Whether you send an SMS or email or talkback radio, you could share why you care personally about Hazelwood mine rehabilitation, outline your concerns, and ask ABC Gippsland to investigate the issue and involve the community.  Scroll down to see a summary of our key concerns.   

Write a letter to the newspaper with your concerns

Writing a letter to the editor is a great way to get issues into the public view. Sharing your experiences and concerns can generate community discussion and encourage editors to cover these issues more. The letters section is often widely read, both by the community and by political staffers, who use it to keep an eye on the issues concerning their constituencies.

This offers folks like us a chance to reach a broad audience and provide readers with information and insights on issues we care about in a way that inspires readers to take action. 

Latrobe Valley Express  

Email your letter to the editor, Gregor Mactaggart 
Email: [email protected] 
Phone: 03 5135 4444 

The Latrobe Valley Express is the weekly community newspaper covering the entire Latrobe Shire. It is published twice weekly on Monday and Thursday and is home delivered free to all households in the Latrobe region.  

The Age 

Send your letter to Letters Page by email to [email protected] 

Check out The Age’s letter writing tips: https://www.theage.com.au/letters-tips  

To increase your chances of being published: 
  1. Keep it relevant: Aim to send your letter first thing in the morning, and try to keep it relevant to current stories the newspaper is covering. Your language should be polite, but persuasive. Be sure to include any information that highlights your expertise or experience on the issue.
  2. Follow the submission guidelines: You will need to provide your full name (not just your initials), your home address and phone number. Make sure you send different letters to each paper, as they will likely not publish letters that have already been published elsewhere.
  3. Keep it brief and get to the point : Keep it short, to the point and concise. Most published letters are about the length of a tweet (approx. 240 characters) and take a strong position on a topic recently covered in the publication.
    • Start with a compelling introductory sentence of why the issue is important.
    • Follow up with short, key points
    • State your opinion about what should be done/possible remedies to the issue
  4. Relate it to home : Newspaper readers care about how an issue will affect them or their families locally. Including local facts or references in your letter increases the chances it will be published and will draw the readers’ interest.
  5. End with a call to action : Ask readers to follow up. For example, urge them to join you in calling on policymakers to address the issue. 
              What are the issues with mine rehabilitation?  

              Decades of brown coal mining to power our state have left the Valley with a toxic mess and enormous mine pits. As our state moves away from coal, we think the companies that profited from this damage should be accountable for cleaning it up.  

              The owner of the Hazelwood mine pit, Engie, proposes flooding the Hazelwood mine pit with river water. But filling such a huge hole would take more water than all of Sydney Harbour, with serious consequences for the Latrobe Valley’s river system, Aboriginal cultural heritage and our internationally recognised Gippsland Lakes. It would also take water away from agriculture and other industries in the region.   

              The cumulative impacts of mine rehabilitation   

              Filling Hazelwood mine pit would require more water than in Sydney Harbour, and that’s just one mine site in the Valley. The total volume of water needed to turn all the mine pits into lakes is just staggering. The EES needs to consider Hazelwood rehabilitation not as an isolated project, but as what it is – the first of three massive rehabilitation projects in the Valley.   

              Alternative water sources   

              Taking so much water from natural sources endangers the entire ecosystem and Aboriginal cultural values of the Latrobe River, its estuary and the Gippsland Lakes. So, the EES should assess alternatives that do not rely on natural water sources, including recycled and desalinated water.    

              Toxic coal ash   

              Engie’s current proposal to divert Morwell River through the mine pit doesn’t adequately address the toxic coal ash held in the dams. If this pollution is allowed to flow into the Latrobe river system, it could have terrible consequences for our communities, rivers, lakes and wetlands.   

              With Aboriginal heritage, our internationally recognised Gippsland Lakes and local ecosystems at stake, the community has the right to demand a thorough process.   

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