Air Pollution monitoring in the Latrobe Valley

EPA Victoria maintains just one monitoring station in the valley – at Traralgon. There were two other EPA monitoring sites at Morwell East and Morwell South but they ceased monitoring in the first half of 2015. The EPA considers Traralgon provides reliable data for the Valley. Our analysis suggests that the three sites recorded quite different pollution levels and trends.

 

Emission trends in the Latrobe Valley

The National Pollutant Inventory is Australia’s most comprehensive annual report on pollution. It was created in 1998 as a National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) by agreement between Australia’s state, territory and Commonwealth governments and is given effect by ‘enabling’ legislation in each state. Each year, the NPI report is published on March 31. The annual report includes reports prepared by major polluters on their estimated emissions and transfers of 93 toxic substances to air, water and soil. The NPI does not include monitoring of the concentration of pollutants in the environment – only the estimated amount emitted.

According to the last five NPI reports:

  • The Latrobe Valley is home to four of Australia’s five highest emitting coal-fired power stations: AGL Loy Yang, Loy Yang B, GDF Suez and EnergyAustralia/TRUEnergy Yallourn.

  • PM10 and PM2.5 emissions from three of these four power stations increased significantly during the last 5 years (excluding Energy Australia/TRUEnergy). PM10 emissions have increased by 28%; PM2.5 emissions by 40%.

  • More than 97% of the Valley’s PM2.5 emissions come from power generation. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 causes a range of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, contributing to premature death.

  • PM10 emissions from electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley increased by 26% during the last 5 years. Emissions from electricity generation include emissions from coal mining.Companies report amalgamated PM emissions as if they are solely from power generation.

A 2015 EPA monitoring report shows that long-term PM2.5 concentrations are between 6.5 and 7.7ug/m3 in the three monitoring locations. The Report indicates that the NEPM standard for annual average PM2.5 concentrations is 8ug/m3. Nationally, environment ministers have agreed to move to 7ug/m3 over ten years.

The Hazelwood mine fire burned for 45 days in February and March 2014. This was one of Victoria’s worst recorded pollution events. The major government inquiry which followed the event found that the fire was likely to have caused the higher-than-average death rate during and following the aftermath of the fire, and found that the fire caused massively elevated pollution levels.

 

Useful sources

For help to access monitoring data, contact:

Jason Choi
Associate Applied Scientist (Air & Odour), Environmental Solutions
Environment Protection Authority Victoria
03 8458 2438 / jason.choi@epa.vic.gov.au

Additional air pollution monitoring in the Latrobe Valley is conducted by the Latrobe Valley Air Monitoring Network (LVAMN), an association of coal-fired power companies. To access this monitoring data, contact:

Mr Dave Addis
President
LVAMN Inc
03 5135 5078 / dave.addis@gdfsuezau.com

Showing 1 reaction