By Australian Associated Press
Pollution from coal-fired power plants in Victoria’s east is higher than acceptable according to international experts, as the environment authority reviews operating licences.
Emissions of sulphur dioxide were almost four times the level that would be acceptable in the United States, according to American air quality modelling expert Dr Andy Gray said.
“Mercury emissions from the power stations appear to be much higher than AGL, Alinta and Energy Australia claim,” Dr Gray said.
The review was commissioned by the Environmental Justice Australia group.
Three licences for the Loy Yang A, Loy Yang B and Yallourn plants at Gippsland are being reviewed by the Environment Protection Authority to ensure there is no adverse effect on the environment.
The review includes ensuring air discharge limits, water, land and waste management conditions are met as well as checking reporting requirements are adhered to.
Community groups and the operators of the three plants were involved in the licence reviews.
Loy Yang A plant operator AGL, said it had undertaken works to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and would continue to do so.
“We recognise that air emissions from our operations such as Loy Yang can potentially contribute to regional airshed issues,” a statement in response to submissions read.
“We are committed to ensuring that our operations run efficiently, within the parameters set by regulatory controls and that we monitor emissions to verify compliance with relevant limits.”
Community group Voices of the Valley said in their submission in recognition of the lower life expectancy in the area licence fee funds should be channelled into the community.
“Some of the funds collected from licence fees and penalties for breaches should be channelled into hospitals and health care for communities affected by mining and coal burning,” the submission said.
The EPA is currently in the process of making recommendations after starting the licence review process in November last year.
This story by Australian Associated Press was published in the Western Advocate on 21 September 2018.