Environment Victoria is calling for a full and thorough investigation into whistleblower claims that asbestos material has been found in the Hazelwood power station smokestacks. The call comes following the Latrobe Valley Express’s report yesterday 1 that the EPA is currently investigating a whistleblower complaint that workers and the community are potentially being exposed to dangerous material.
Environment Victoria’s Mark Wakeham said today;
“While it is well known that Hazelwood was built with large amounts of asbestos, claims that asbestos material has found its way into the smokestacks are extremely worrying. The risk would be that asbestos dust could escape the smokestacks along with other pollutants.”
“The whistle-blower claims, and any risks to workers and the community, deserve a complete and thorough investigation by the EPA. While Hazelwood has been removing asbestos from the power station over the past decade, there are still very large quantities of asbestos on site. Given that parts of the power station are now almost 50 years old it is likely that the asbestos material is deteriorating.”
Mr Wakeham said that the ageing power station was becoming increasingly problematic and that the state and federal Governments should be looking to replace Hazelwood.
“New asbestos exposure worries are the last thing the Latrobe Valley needs with the region already experiencing extremely high rates of asbestos related illnesses. The sooner we get on with the job of investing in new clean energy projects in the Latrobe Valley and replacing power stations like Hazelwood, the better.”
“As the power station approaches its sixth decade of operation we need the state and federal governments to urgently develop a plan to replace the power station with clean energy projects and jobs, some of which could be targeted for the Latrobe Valley”, concluded Mr Wakeham.
Hazelwood power station is the country’s most polluting power station, producing 1.53 tonnes of greenhouse pollution for every MWh of electricity produced, more than any other utility scale power station in the country 2. It also uses 27 billion litres of fresh water each year, which is almost as much as Melbourne uses in a month, and is the single largest source of dioxin pollution in Australia.”
For further information or comment:
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham 0439 700 501 or 03 9341 8127
2 See ACIL Tasman, Fuel resource, new entry and generation costs in the NEM, April 2009