Press Release - April 4, 2024

Latest data shows dirty coal should not be extended in NSW

The latest data from the National Pollution Inventory shows coal is still one of the dirtiest industries in NSW, providing further evidence that it would be absurd and harmful for the Minns Government to extend the operations of coal power stations or mines with public money.

Each year more than 4000 big polluters like power stations, mines and manufacturing plants are required to provide information about their emissions of 93 toxic substances for the (NPI), Australia's annual report on toxic pollution.

Analysis of 2023 NPI financial year data by lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia shows that for the fourth year in a row, power generation from the NSW coal power stations has decreased, but they remain among the worst emitters in the country of some of the most toxic pollution.

There was a 2.9% decrease in total MWh power generation from coal power stations in NSW last year. Over the longer term, these unreliable and ageing power stations have produced 20.9% less power in NSW since 2018-19.

Alarmingly, the data shows toxic mercury pollution across the five coal power stations in NSW has gone up 29% since last year. Eraring power station recorded a horrifying 130% increase in mercury pollution.

Mercury is a heavy metal that permanently damages human brains and kidneys and is especially harmful to children.

The toxic data comes after energy analysis predicted that NSW taxpayers could be forced to pay as much as $150 million a year to energy giant Origin to extend the operations of the Eraring coal-fired power station.

Health experts, community and environment groups are calling on the Minns Government not to extend dirty coal-fired power stations, and for the NSW Government and its environment regulator the EPA to listen to community and limit toxic pollution through its current review of all coal licenses in NSW.

Detailed NPI data shows:


Australia's largest power station, Eraring, is slated for closure in 2025. Eraring recorded an increase in all five toxic pollutants. This includes a horrifying 130% increase in mercury pollution, a 6% increase in nitrogen oxides pollution, a 16% increase in PM10 particle pollution, an 88% increase in PM2.5 fine particle pollution, and a 15% increase in sulfur dioxide pollution.

Vales Point Power Station

Alarmingly, mercury pollution from Vales Point has gone up 10%, and there was a 47% increase in sulfur dioxide pollution, which can cause inflammation of the respiratory tract, wheezing and lung damage.

Its owner, Delta Electricity, is due to face criminal proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court on Friday over an alleged mass fish kill that killed thousands of fish in Lake Macquarie.

Despite the devastating environmental harm and pumping out high levels of pollution that can makes people sick, Delta Electricity is trying to extend its profits through expanding local coal production at Chain Valley and Mannering collieries.

The NSW Planning Minister, Paul Scully, has the power to ensure this dangerous expansion is thoroughly scrutinised via the planning process.

An estimated 650 children on the Central Coast and at Lake Macquarie have asthma because of pollution that comes from coal-fired power stations like Vales Point.

Bayswater Power Station

Bayswater Power Station in Muswellbrook is the worst in Australia for itrogen oxides pollution and second in the nation for sulfur dioxide pollution. It also recorded a 48% increase in mercury pollution, and a 32% increase in PM2.5 fine particle pollution.

EJA Lawyer Isabella Farrell-Hallegraeff said:

“The owners of coal power stations are posting profits, despite NSW power stations producing less power overall and being among the worst emitters of some of the most toxic pollution.

Coal-fired power stations in NSW are pumping out some of the most toxic chemicals for our health – leading to serious health problems like cancer, respiratory illnesses and severe asthma.

We know there is no safe level of air pollution and while coal-fired power stations continue to operate, the NSW Government and the EPA have a responsibility to protect the health of our community.

We know that communities continue to tell the EPA that they’re sick and tired of toxic coal pollution and call for it to take proper action.

Mike Campbell OAM, Central Coast Community Environment Network Executive Member said:

“Now is the time to phase out polluting coal power and replace it with renewable energy that doesn’t harm human health or the climate.

Our community has had enough of the asthma, the heart disease, the babies born with serious health conditions all related to air pollution from coal power stations.   

We deserve better than to breathe toxic air and we're calling on the EPA to crack down on the big coal companies.“