Victorian power stations are emitting far more toxic mercury pollution than power stations in other Australian states and should be required to urgently install better pollution controls, Environment Victoria said today.
According to new data from the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) and analysis by Environmental Justice Australia, EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn power station emitted the most mercury of any power station in the country, at 436 kilograms in 2017-18. AGL’s Loy Yang A came in second at 292kg, with Alinta’s Loy Yang B third, emitting 280kg of mercury.
All three are located in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and burn brown coal. Nationally most power stations emit well under 100kg per annum of mercury.
“Unchecked pollution from Victoria’s coal-burning power stations is endangering community health,” said Environment Victoria Climate Campaigner Cat Nadel.
“This new data reveals that Yallourn coal power station in Victoria is emitting four or five times more toxic mercury than power stations in other states.”
Exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys and a developing foetus, according to the NPI.
Coal-fired power stations are also the largest industrial source of other toxic pollutants, including fine particle pollution (26% of the national ‘all sources’ total), oxides of nitrogen (26%) and sulfur dioxide (49%).
“Health experts have urged the Andrews government to make sure power stations install technology that will reduce this toxic pollution,” said Ms Nadel.
“International experts commissioned by Environmental Justice Australia have advised the Victorian government that current limits (for fine particulates, NOx and SOx) are many times higher than those permitted in developed and most developing countries. There are no technological barriers to adopting best practice limits and pollution controls here.”
The licences of the three Victorian coal power stations, which are under review, currently include no limit for mercury pollution.
“The Victorian government must use the current licence review as an opportunity to force our biggest polluters to clean up their act for the sake of public health and safety,” said Ms Nadel.
Cat Nadel, Safe Climate Campaigner
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