Environment Victoria and lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia say EPA Victoria needs to outright reject AGL Energy’s plans for a massive expansion of toxic coal ash dumps and enforce laws to protect the local community.
AGL Energy has sought approval to expand coal ash dumps at Loy Yang A until 2043, well beyond power station’s 2035 closure date.
The Japanese government’s clean energy fund has also announced plans to use unviable carbon capture and storage techniques to trap emissions produced during hydrogen production and store them underground.
Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Ally McAlpine said:
“The nation’s biggest single carbon polluting power plant shouldn’t be allowed to dump coal ash next to communities for another two decades. Shockingly, the new coal dumps will be six times the size of the MCG.
If AGL is serious about closing Loy Yang A within 12 years, it shouldn’t need a permit to dump coal ash for almost 20 years. Something doesn’t add up.
At the bare minimum, these coal ash dumps must be properly engineered, managed, and monitored to make sure these toxins don’t seep into our waterways.”
Environment Victoria policy and advocacy manager Bronya Lipski said:
“The expansion of the Loy Yang ash dam makes no sense and is inconsistent with the Victorian government’s target of achieving 95% renewable energy by 2035, and emissions reduction targets of net zero by 2045.
We have concerns that the coal ash dam might be required for an ill-conceived coal to hydrogen plant in the Latrobe Valley – a proposal that would only make Japan’s unproven energy solution Victoria’s most recent environmental problem.
The EPA’s landfill guidelines aren’t good enough for ash dams. There’s an enormous groundwater plume under the existing ash dam that they EPA hasn’t required AGL to clean up. Making this ash dam bigger is adding to an already huge problem.
We should be focussed on the energy transition, not extending the life of the coal industry.”
Friends of Latrobe Water spokesperson Tracey Anton said:
“AGL shouldn’t be allowed to dump coal ash next to our communities and put the health of an entire generation at risk.
AGL Energy doesn’t plan to implement best practice techniques for coal ash management and will not adequately line the coal ash dams to prevent the risk of contamination seeping into the Traralgon Creek, Flynns Creek and the Latrobe River.”
AGL Energy is seeking approval to build six new coal ash cells and a second leachate pond alongside Loy Yang A power station, expanding its capacity for coal ash by 9,730,000 cubic metres.
Coal ash from Loy Yang A and B power stations would be mixed with water and pumped into enormous dump sites, creating a lethal cocktail of mercury, lead, arsenic, selenium and chromium.
In its application, AGL Energy has identified seven recent pollution events where the company was in potential breach of its licence conditions, including incidents relating to dust, odour, noise, leachate runoff, and inappropriate management of fuels and waste.
Victoria’s new environmental laws require companies to minimise risks to human health and environment, so environment groups are calling on EPA Victoria to reject this proposal.
Public comments close at 11:59 pm, Monday 17 March 2023.
James Norman, Media and Content Manager