Environmental Justice Australia has urged the nation’s politicians to remember the serious health impacts of coal-fired power before flirting with plans for new coal power stations.
Air pollution researcher Dr James Whelan said coal-fired power stations created serious health impacts for communities within 150 kilometres of the facilities.
“Air pollution in Australian cities contributes to $2.4bn in health problems each year and is responsible for the premature deaths of more than 3,000 Australians annually,” Dr Whelan said.
“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.
“We now know much of the sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen in Sydney’s air pollution comes from the coal-fired power stations in the Hunter Valley and central coast.
“The retirement of these ageing and inefficient power generators presents an opportunity to significantly improve community health for millions of people.
“Australia’s coal-fired power stations are retiring at a rate of one per year and Australia has not had a new coal-fired station approved or constructed for more than a decade.
“Meanwhile, the renewable energy industry continues to grow.
“Australia must move on from coal as an energy source.
“Every call for a new coal-fired power station is a dangerous thought bubble that comes with serious health impacts for communities within 150 kilometres of the facilities.”