Clean coal? Lake Macquarie power station cloaks residents with tonnes of toxic coal dust, sparking investigation

Media Release: Friday 17 February 2017

Community groups have initiated an EPA investigation into air pollution from the Vales Point power station on the NSW Central Coast. Coal trucks dumping thousands of tonnes of coal outdoors at the power station are creating clouds of dangerous coal dust, just hundreds of metres from residential Mannering Point.

“We reported the pollution event immediately and look forward to a prompt investigation by the NSW EPA to stop and remedy this serious air pollution problem,” said Dr James Whelan, researcher with Environmental Justice Australia.

Particle pollution from coal dust causes serious health impacts including respiratory and cardiovascular illness, asthma and hospital admissions.

Under its pollution licence, the Vales Point power station must carry out all its operations and activities in a manner that will minimise the emission of dust.

When community members investigated, coal trucks were uncovered and no water was sprayed to control dust. The Vales Point power station reported emitting 34 million kilograms of 30 toxic substances in the 2014-15 National Pollutant Inventory, including 66,000kg of coarse particle pollution.

Elsewhere in NSW, coal is transported into power station furnaces by conveyor belts that are entirely enclosed.

“We expect a major polluter like Delta Electricity to do all they can to minimise pollution,” said local resident Mr Mike Campbell who witnessed the pollution.

“It’s shocking to see Delta Electricity dumping thousands of tonnes of coal outdoors in hot windy conditions, exposing our community to toxic pollution.”

The pollution was reported to the Chief Regulator of NSW, Mr Mark Gifford, and Regional EPA Director Adam Gilligan, last Thursday evening.

The closest EPA air pollution monitoring is more than 25km from the power station.

The Vales Point power station was sold by the NSW Government in 2015 to two investors in a controversial $1 million deal. It is expected to close by 2022. 

Interviews:

Dr James Whelan 0431 150 928

Mr Mike Campbell 4355 1287 Community Environment Network, past president of Wyong Ratepayers Association

High quality photographs of the coal dumping are available on request

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