Press Release - November 20, 2023

Have your say on toxic coal-fired power stations in NSW

Lawyers and environment groups are calling for community members to have their say on toxic coal pollution as part of a review being conducted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

For the first time in five years, the NSW EPA is comprehensively reviewing the environment protection licences for the state's four coal fired power stations: Vales Point, Eraring, Bayswater and Mount Piper.

Weak conditions mean NSW power stations can choose to pump out high levels of toxic air pollutants known to harm community health, including nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, particulates and mercury, at rates higher than comparable power stations overseas.

Coal-fired power stations are the biggest source of controllable air pollution in NSW and their toxic emissions have serious health impacts for communities.

Coal-fired power stations in Australia contribute to 845 babies being born with low birth-weight, more than 14,400 children suffering from asthma, and 785 premature deaths each year.

Recent data from the Australia’s inventory of toxic pollution shows that mercury pollution from NSW coal fired power stations surged by 18% over the last year, with AGL’s Bayswater Power Station rated the state’s worst for mercury pollution.

Environmental Justice Australia is calling for stronger conditions to apply to NSW power stations including:

  • Tougher limits on air pollution for all four power stations
  • Stronger requirements to publish all information and data on pollution levels and site operations in a way that’s accessible for communities
  • Vales Point and Bayswater Power Station should be required to have formal Community Consultative Committees to ensure greater community engagement and accountability and transparency.

Submissions can be lodged via the EPA NSW website or by emailing [email protected]

Environmental Justice Australia Lawyer Jocelyn McGarity said:

“This is a critical opportunity to tell the EPA we want stronger pollution limits on dirty coal. No matter where we live, we all need clean air to breathe. Nobody should be exposed to dangerous coal pollution.

We know the coal industry is on the way out but that shouldn't mean these companies get away with pumping out high levels of toxic pollution.

Delta Electricity is in Court because its being prosecuted over the fish kill at Lake Macquarie, so now’s the time to implement licence conditions that make them more transparent and engage better with the community.

This five-yearly licence review won’t come up again until 2028 so it’s crucial that communities use this opportunity to call for improved licence conditions to reduce pollution and improve transparency and accountability.

As part of its review, the EPA must use its powers to amend the licences to better protect the environment and communities.

Communities deserve to know about what polluters are doing to the air they breathe and the water they play, fish and boat in. That's why we're calling for stronger reporting requirements and information disclosure from the power stations."

CONTACT: Jem Wilson, 03 8341 3110, [email protected]