The health burden of coal-fired power in NSW

In NSW, there are five coal-fired power stations – Liddell, Eraring, Mt Piper, Bayswater and Vales Point. Two are located on the Central Coast of NSW, two in the Upper Hunter Valley and one in Lithgow.

Power stations emit 30 toxic pollutants and are the single biggest source of dangerous sulfur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and fine particle pollution (PM2.5) in Australia.

Exposure to these toxic pollutants cause premature death, heart attacks, stroke, asthma attacks, low birth weight babies, lung cancer and type 2 diabetes.

In 2018, we commissioned a report, The Health Burden of fine particle pollution from electricity generation in NSW, by leading epidemiologist, Dr Ben Ewald to investigate the serious health damage NSW’s five coal-fired power stations are causing.

The findings were far worse than expected. Air pollution from coal-fired power stations in NSW is hurting communities from Newcastle, Lithgow, Central Coast and the Hunter Valley all the way to Sydney.

Each year, the five coal-fired power stations in NSW cause:

• 279 premature deaths

• 233 low birthweight babies (less than 2500g)

• 361 new cases of type 2 diabetes

The community that bears the greatest health burden is Sydney as weather conditions push much of the pollution into the Sydney basin. In Sydney, each year, pollution from coal-fired power stations causes 153 premature deaths – more than half of the state’s total.

If the NSW government doesn’t act now, thousands more people will die from exposure to toxic coal pollution before the state’s five power stations close. And thousands more will suffer from heart attacks, stroke, asthma attacks, low birth weight, lung cancer and type 2 diabetes.

The health burden of coal-fired power stations on our communities is shocking and entirely preventable.

The companies that own these power stations have the technology to reduce toxic pollutants from coal-fired power stations by more than 85% – they just don’t bother to install it and the government doesn’t make them.

November 05, 2018
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