A damning report claims both State and Federal regulators have allowed toxic emissions to be released from the region’s coal-fired power stations damaging the health and well-being not only of nearby residents but communities more than 50kms away from the generators.
People who live within 50kms of coal-powered stations (which includes Singleton and Muswellbrook and their surrounding areas in the NSW Hunter region) face a risk of premature death as much as three to four times that of people living further away the report Toxic and terminal – How the regulation of coal-fired power stations fails Australian communities, found.
The report was prepared by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) and it investigated the operations and regulation of 10 coal fired power stations not only in the Hunter but also interstate.
It says more than 30 toxic substances, that have serious health impacts on communities, have been allowed to leave the power stations at levels much higher than those allowable in USA, China and the European Union.
“Australia’s air pollution laws are weak, outdated and inadequately monitored and enforced,” said EJA researcher Dr James Whelan..
“We need stronger national air pollution laws and enforcement now.”
Our greatest concern is the operations of the AGL owned Bayswater and Liddell power station located 28km from Singleton and 16km from Muswellbrook.
The report says one of Liddell’s claim to fame is the fact it is the oldest power station of its type in the country at 46 years of age. AGL has announced it will close the facility in 2022 although this is welcomed by EJA they raises concerns about how the site will be decommissioned and remediated successfully.
“None of the 10 power stations has rehabilitation bonds or financial assurances imposed on it to ensure decommissioning and rehabilitation will occur if the operator does not adequately rehabilitate after closure,” the report states.
Liddell’s neighbour Bayswater is 32 years old and emitted more Sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen and than any other power station in the report.
The report says the annual average concentration of toxic fine particle pollution from Bayswater in Muswellbrook has exceeded the national standard every year since the Upper Hunter Air Quality pollution monitoring network began monitoring PM 2.5 in 2010.