This morning, at a morning tea in Morwell, the Victorian government announced that the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry would be reopened.
Community group Voices of the Valley have found evidence which they believe shows a spike in deaths occurred around the time of the fire. Last year’s inquiry did not consider this evidence as it closed before the evidence could be finalised.
Environmental Justice Australia has been working with Latrobe Valley residents since the fire began. We supported Voices of the Valley in their call for an inquiry, and then for the inquiry to be re-opened to consider deaths from the fire.
It’s very welcome to see that the Andrews government is now committed to investigate the Hazelwood mine fire's health impacts on the people of the Latrobe Valley.
The Terms of Reference will allow the evidence to be thoroughly considered and provide all-important answers to Latrobe Valley residents about the true extent of the mine fire’s effects on their health.
This Inquiry also represents an important opportunity to ensure that rehabilitation of the Hazelwood mine is done properly. Failure to require GDF Suez to satisfactorily rehabilitate could leave us with a legacy of either massive liabilities for the tax payer, or a blight on the community of Morwell and its environment that lasts centuries.
Voices of the Valley are very happy with the Minister's announcement of a mine fire health clinic, and a public lung function clinic which will provide equipment and programs for Latrobe Valley residents to assess and monitor lung function, their physical & mental health. This shows the Andrews government is taking the health impacts from the mine fire seriously.