In May 2005, Environment Victoria established that Hazelwood was the least efficient power station in Australia – and one of the dirtiest in the world.
Since then, we’ve been campaigning to replace Hazelwood with clean energy like wind and solar, while also supporting the Latrobe Valley community to develop new sustainable industries.
Hazelwood closed in March 2017. We helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal government funding to support the Latrobe Valley through this transition.
State and federal governments need a plan to support the Latrobe Valley community through the transition from coal. This should involve investing in new economic opportunities.
Environment Victoria supports a ‘just transition’ approach to cleaning up our polluting power supply.
Hazelwood burned brown coal, which is one of the most polluting ways to produce electricity. As a result, it pumped out more than 15 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution each year. That’s almost 15 percent of Victoria’s annual greenhouse gas emissions and 3 percent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, all on its own!
As well as being a huge greenhouse polluter, Hazelwood was also a massive water guzzler. It used a whopping 27 billion litres of water a year. That’s almost as much water as the whole of Melbourne consumes in a month! With Hazelwood retired, much of this water could be returned to the struggling Latrobe River, which flows into the Gippsland Lakes.
On top of that, Hazelwood was a major source of other types of pollution. The National Pollutant Inventory showed that Hazelwood was the single largest source of dioxin pollution in Australia, as well as emitting 7800 tonnes of hydrochloric acid each year. It was also one of the biggest polluters of toxic fine particulate matter (PM 2.5).
Air pollution from the normal operations of Hazelwood alone was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 18 people every year in Gippsland, and makes many more people sick.
But it can get worse. In 2014 part of the mine that supplies Hazelwood power station caught fire. It burned for 45 days, blanketing the surrounding area in toxic smoke. It was one of the worst pollution events in Victoria’s history.
We have a narrow window of opportunity to ensure that the Latrobe Valley prospers during the transition to a cleaner economy, rather than suffers as it did during previous economic changes.
Environment Victoria’s report Life After Coal, released in October 2016, explores what a well-managed transition for the Latrobe Valley could look like, including sustainable economic opportunities.
It's time to make the transition from polluting coal to clean, renewable energy. Tell the federal government we need a national plan to phase out coal while supporting affected communities.