Decades of brown coal mining to power Victoria has left the Latrobe Valley with enormous mine pits and toxic coal ash contaminating the land and groundwater. As our state moves away from coal, the companies that profited off this damage must be accountable for cleaning it up.
Rehabilitation of these sites is a critical part of a just transition to clean energy that looks after the community and the environment.
The current proposal to rehabilitate Hazelwood mine is to flood the mine pit with river water and would require more water than all of Sydney Harbour. This could have serious consequences for the Latrobe River system, Aboriginal cultural heritage and our internationally recognised Gippsland Lakes.
If the plan to divert Morwell river through the mine goes ahead and toxic coal pollution is allowed to flow into our rivers, it could have terrible impacts for the health of our communities, rivers, lakes and wetlands. The project could also set a dangerous precedent on what is acceptable for the remaining mines in the Latrobe Valley.
Thanks to the work of local environmental and community groups, the project now has to go through an Environment Effects Statement (EES). This is the most thorough environmental assessment we have in Victoria and provides an important opportunity for the community to voice their concerns.
It will take all of us, speaking up, to get the mine cleaned up properly and safely – but it is vital to secure a healthy future in the Latrobe Valley as we transition away from polluting fossil fuels.
The Hazelwood mine is one of the 3 large coal mines in the Latrobe Valley. It is the only one which is no longer mining coal and is therefore the first to go through the process of closure and rehabilitation.
ENGIE’s rehabilitation plans involve diverting billions of litres of river water into the old Hazelwood mine pit to turn it into an artificial lake. We don’t yet know all the risks associated with this plan – which is why a thorough environmental assessment is so important.
An EES is a report, with technical studies and expert reports attached. It is the strictest environmental assessment we have in Victoria and the best opportunity to make sure the project’s environmental risks are properly scrutinised.
The EES process has four stages: scoping to determine what ENGIE will be required to investigate and report on, ENGIE’s preparation of the EES, public review and finally the Minister’s assessment.
To ensure the best outcome for the local community and environment, there are a number of key issues that need to be addressed in the EES.
We’re working alongside a number of local groups to make sure the mine is cleaned up properly and safely. But it will take all of us speaking up!
Header image: Benji Doodle
Sign up to stay updated on the Hazelwood mine rehabilitation and find out opportunities to get involved