Toxic and terminal: How the regulation of coal-fired power stations fails Australian communities

Toxic and terminal: How the regulation of coal-fired power stations fails Australian communities is the result of exhaustive research, Freedom of Information searches, surveillance of Australia’s major power stations and advice from health experts and industry whistleblowers.

The report finds:

  • Coal-fired power stations emit more than 30 toxic substances and are Australia’s biggest source of fine particles (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).
  • These substances cause and contribute to asthma, lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, respiratory disease, headaches and nausea in nearby communities.
  • In most cases emissions limits in Australia are much more lax than those in the US, EU and China.
  • Mercury limits for some NSW power stations are 666 times higher than the US limits.
  • Pollution reduction technologies that have been available for many years and are used overseas could significantly reduce power station emissions but are not in use in Australia.
  • New coal-fired power stations, even those described as ‘ultra-super critical’ or ‘HELE’ (high efficiency, low emission) only marginally reduce toxic emissions
  • Despite much evidence of failure to comply with pollution licence conditions, no power station in Victoria, NSW or Queensland has been prosecuted for any offence in the past ten years (instead they have been issued with inadequate penalty notices).

Read the full report Toxic and terminal: How the regulation of coal-fired power stations fails Australian communities (PDF, 4MB)

Read the executive summary and recommendations

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