EPA Victoria, we need pollution controls to protect health

Healthcare workers and community members call on EPA Victoria to require best practice pollution controls for coal fired power stations to protect health

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Letter Text (signatures updated daily)


Dear EPA Victoria,

Levels of air pollution recorded in the Latrobe Valley and in Melbourne have been associated with increased risk of death, acute asthma, preterm birth and low birthweight [1-8]. The majority of toxic pollution in the Latrobe Valley airshed comes from coal-fired power generation [9]. Recent modelling has estimated that every year pollution from the power stations causes 17 deaths among adults, 11 low weight births and 217 person-days of asthma symptoms among children in the Latrobe Valley [10]. The same modelling estimated that the pollution can travel hundreds of kilometres and that every year in Victoria it causes 190 deaths among adults, 238 low weight births and 4,024 person-days of asthma symptoms among children [10].

Latrobe Valley power stations are currently permitted to emit pollution at levels far greater than those permitted overseas. For example each Latrobe Valley power station is currently permitted to emit well over 100 milligrams of particulate matter per cubic metre of air, whereas by 2021 each European coal-fired power station of similar size will only be permitted to emit up to 12 milligrams of particulate matter per cubic metre of air [11,12]. In 2016 The Board of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry recommended that “Latrobe Valley mine operators should lead the way in implementing the best available technology to reduce emissions”[13] but this has not been done because the power stations have not been required to reduce their pollution.

We therefore request that you now require Latrobe Valley power stations to:

(a) limit their toxic pollution emissions to the same levels, or less, than will be required by 2021 for coal-fired power stations of similar size in the European Union - specifically, 175 mg/Nm3 of NOX, 100 mg/Nm3 of carbon monoxide, 130 mg/Nm3 of sulfur dioxide, 5 mg/Nm3 of hydrochloric acid, 3 mg/Nm3 of hydrofluoric acid, 8 mg/Nm3 of particulate matter and 7 µg/Nm3 of mercury [12] - and,

(b) install best practice pollution controls to reduce toxic emissions including fabric bag filters, flue-gas desulfurisation, selective catalytic reduction and activated carbon injection technology [14]

We assume that the above pollution limits are achievable for Latrobe Valley power stations based on independent expert review concluding that there are no technological barriers to designing pollution control systems for the power stations [14] and because many coal fired power stations in Europe are of a similar age or older than Latrobe Valley power stations.

We consider these interventions crucial for protecting Latrobe Valley residents and other Victorians from further harm.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

   

   

   

   

   

   

Mrs Bosede Adetifa
Ms Natalie Adler
Ms Hannah Alquier
Dr Tom Alywn
Miss Ebonie Andrew
Mr Geoff Andrews
Mr Tom Andrews
Mrs Tracey Anton
Mrs Naomi Arthur-Smith
Ms Dana Ashlakoff
Dr Holly Atkinson
Dr Sean Atkinson
Dr Cara Baillie
Mr Chris Baillie
Ms Kerry Baker
Dr Peter Balmer
Dr John Bardsley
Mr Scott Bennett
Mr John Berger
Mr Nikolaus Bergman
Mrs Ann Bishop
Mr Patrick Bonne
Ms Carolyne Boothman
Miss Akarna Bowers
Mr Ian Boyd
Mr Pablo Brait
Mr Robert Briggs
Ms Carol Brooks
Mrs Natasha Brown
Dr Pamela Bruder
Mrs Lorraine Bull
Dr Nikki Burdett
Dr Angela Burge
Mr Cheyne Butcher
Mr Daniel Caffrey
Mrs Jane Caffrey
Mr Spencer Cameron
Ms Bethany Carr
Dr Julian Cassar
Ms Lyndi Chapman
Miss Clara Charbine
Mr Brendan Chessum
Ms Nebula Chowdhury
Dr Letitia Clark
Ms Alison Clarke
Dr Geoffrey Coggins
Mr Gregor Coldicutt
Dr Glen Cook
Mr John Cooper
Miss Alyssa Coppens
Dr Lachlan Couper
Ms Georgette Courtenay
Mr Ray Cowling
Dr George Crisp
Ms Ingrid Crosser
Ms Helen Culjkovic
Ms Arabella Daniel
Ms Suzanne Davies
Ms Wendy Davis
Mr Alexander de Vries
Dr Suzanne Deed
Dr Laura Dentrinos
Ms Emma Downey
Miss Jasmine Elliott
Ms Kacie Etherington
Ms Claire Everton
Mr Lachlan Faktor
Mrs Wendy Farmer
Mr Ross Findlay
Mr Nial Finegan
Mr Connor Fisher
Mr Nate Flacks
Mr David Fox
Ms Elke Frank
Ms Dianne Frey
Miss Brooke Gales
Mr Robin Gardner
Miss Erin Garth
Ms Laura Gazzard
Mr Robert Gell
Dr Raymun Ghumman
Mrs Celeste Gibbons
Mrs Christine Gibbons
Mr Michael Gibbons
Mr Brad Gibson
Dr Lisa Gilbert
Dr Sylvie Gjerde
Dr Laksmi Govindasamy
Ms Lorna Groves
Ms Verity Guiton
Narelle Hahn-Smith
Mrs Patricia Hale
Miss Sasha Hall
Ms Ann Hamden
Ms Andrea Hamilton
Mr Patrick Hamilton
Mrs Veronique Hamilton
Ms Emma Handley
Dr Liz Hanna
Dr Krystal Harrison
Mrs Jeannie Haughton
Ms Belinda Haydon
Ms Nicole Hegedus
Mr Liam Henderson
Mr Glenn Henke
Ms Leonie Hitchenor
Mr Trevor Hoare
Miss Molly Horne
Mrs Felicity Hostettler
Miss Jenny Hughes
Ms Josephine Humphrys
Ms Roxane Ingleton
Ms Suzanne Ingleton
Dr John Iser
Miss Sheila James
Dr Harry Jennens
Dr Ian Jennens
Prof Elizabeth Johnson
Miss Margaret Johnson
Ms Margaret Jones
Mr Rhys Jones
Miss Stephanie Jones
Mr Jon Kaub
Ms Niamh Keighran
Ms Caroline Kein
Dr Karen Kiang
Dr David King
Dr Roger King
Mr Jack Kinnersly
Mr Jon Knight
Mrs Maxine Knight
Mr Philip Kosky
A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos AM
Dr Mitchell Kraan
Miss Mara Kyranakis
Ms Suzanne Lake
Mr Frank Lang
Mr John Langer
Mr Ross Lawrence
Mrs Heather Lawson
Mrs Marion Lewis
Dr David Lightfoot
Dr Margerie Linton
Ms Maja Loekkegaard
Ms Sophia Loprete
Mrs Sherrie Lumley
Prof Diana Lynne Madden
Mr John Mann
Dr Brett Marshall
Dr Timothy Martin
Mrs Libby Matchett
Ms Rebecca Matthews
Dr Nola Maxfield
Miss Amber May
Mrs Ann McAlpin
Miss Alexandra McAuliffe
Ms Fiona McCandless
Miss Geraldine McClure
Dr Joanna McCubbin
Ms Helen McKelvie
Ms Laura McKelvie
Dr Malcolm McKelvie
Ms Sue McKinnon
Mr Robert McLaughlin
Ms Kate Meadows
Mr Guy Meall
Ms Angela Merriam
Dr Coralie Millet
Ms Elizabeth Mitchell
Mrs Jan Mitchell
Mrs Inge Mitchell
Ms Fiona Moore
Ms Emma Morris
Dr Chris Mount
Ms J Murphy
Ms Anne Myers
Ms Mary N
Mr Phillip Nadvesnik
Mr Phillip Nahed
Mrs Audrey Naismith
Dr Anna Nicholson
Dr Nishani Nithianandan
Mr Ian Norwood
Mrs Leanne Norwood
Dr Pat O'Brien
Mr Damian Okeefe
Ms Margaret Oliver
Mr Sibi Packirisamy
Ms Kate Pallister
Dr Janine Payne
Mr Paul Payten
Ms Angie Pearson
Dr Kristen Pearson
Mr Tony Peck
Ms Anne Perkins
Dr Rob Phair
Ms Nicole Phillips
Mr A R Polack
Mr Nigel Purchase
Ms Susan Purdy
Dr Lindsay Quennell
Ms Susan Quinn
Mr Benjamin Racz
Mr Neil Rankine
Ms Susan Reardon
Ms Fiona Reavley
Mr William Redman
Ms Jill Redwood
Mr Colin Richards
Dr Cassie Rickard
Mr Nic Robertson
Ms Belinda Rogers
Mr Daniel Rosen
Mr Rod Rosenboom
Dr Amita Roy
Mr Max Sargent
Mr Vivek Satyajit
Dr David Saunders
Dr Inca Saunders
Dr Mark Savage
Prof Judy Savige
Mrs Anne Schmidli
Mr Ryan Seddon
A/Prof Linda Selvey
Dr Rachael Sheridan
Dr Elisabeth Sherry
Mr Jamie Sibbald
Dr Margaret Simmons
Miss Grace Simpson
Mrs Kumi Slade
Ms Jane Smith
Mr Karl Smith
Ms Loretta Smith
Mr Maxwell Smith
Mr Sean Smith
Mr Stuart Spark
Dr Louise Sparrow
Mr Jack Spira
Dr Alison Stacey
Ms Angelique Stefanatos
Ms Robin Stevens
Ms Elaine Stevenson
Mr Simon Stewart
Ms Emilia Storm
Mrs Claudia Stow
Mr Brian Strating
Ms Penelope Swales
Ms Michelle Swiety
Dr Emma-Leigh Synott
Dr Peter Tait
Mrs Kylie Taylor
Mr Mark Taylor
Mrs Suzanne Tennant
Ms Rosalie Thomas
Mr David Tomkins
Mrs Robyn Truscott
Prof John Upham
Miss Melisa Upton
Dr John Van Der Kallen
Mr Jan van Egmond
Dr Henk van Leeuwen
Mr Rob Van Slageren
Mr Pete Venticich
Ms Stephanie Verdier
Miss Ainsley Verhagen
Ms Heike Weber
Mr Bruce Whimpey
Dr Naomi Whyler
Mr Matthew Wickert
Mr Ben Wiessner
Mr Howard Williams
Mr Keir Williams
Mr Graham Wilson
Ms Renee Wilson
Mr Paul Winfield
Dr Ken Winkel
Ms Jodie Winnell
Mr Allan Wood
Dr Heidi Woolford
Dr Richard Yin
Dr Margaret Young
Mrs Lianne Ypelaan
Mr Ian Yule

References:

1. Environment Protection Authority Victoria (2019). 2018-All sites air quality hourly avg. AIR-I- F-V-VH-O-S1-DB-M2-4-0. Retrieved from https://discover.data.vic.gov.au/dataset/epa-air-watch-all-sites-air-quality-hourly-averages-yearly

2. Environment Protection Authority Victoria (2020). Air monitoring report 2019 - compliance with the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure. Retrieved from https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/-/media/epa/files/publications/1875.pdf

3. Environment Protection Authority Victoria (2019). Air monitoring report 2018 - compliance with the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure. Retrieved from https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/-/media/epa/files/publications/1749.pdf

4. Pinault L, Tjepkema M, Crous DL, Weichenthal S, van Donkelaar A, Martin RV, Brauer M, Chen H & Burnett RT (2016). ‘Risk estimates of mortality attributed to low concentrations of ambient fine particulate matter in the Canadian community health survey cohort’, Environmental Health 15:18

5. Shi L, Zanobetti A, Kloog I, Coull BA, Koutrakis P, Melly SJ & Schwartz JD (2016). ‘Low-concentration PM2.5 and mortality: estimating acute and chronic effects in a population-based study’ Environmental Health Perspectives 124(1) pp46-52

6. Di Q, Wang Y, Zanobetti A, Wang Y, Koutrakis P, Choirat C, Dominici F & Schwartz JD (2017). ‘Air pollution and mortality in the Medicare population’, New England Journal of Medicine 376 pp2513-22

7. Periera G, Cook A, De Vos AJBM & Holman CDJ (2010). ‘A case-crossover analysis of traffic-related air pollution and emergency department presentations for asthma in Perth, Western Australia’, Medical Journal of Australia 193(9) pp511-514

8. Chen G, Guo Y, Abramson MJ, Williams G & Li S (2017). ‘Exposure to low concentrations of air pollutants and adverse birth outcomes in Brisbane, Australia, 2003-2013’, Science of the Total Environment 622-623 pp721-726

9. Teague B, Catford J & Roper A (2016). Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry report 2015/2016 volume III - health improvement p71. Retrieved from http://hazelwoodinquiry.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Hazelwood-Mine-Fire-Inquiry-2015-2016-Report-Volume-III-Health-Improvement.pdf

10. Farrow A, Anhäuser A & Myllyvirta L (2020). Lethal power: how burning coal is killing people in Australia, unpublished dataset viewable at www.healthyfutures.net.au/gippslandpollution, broader report including methodology available at https://www.greenpeace.org.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/GPAP-Lethal-Power-full-report.pdf

11. Environmental Justice Australia (2017). Toxic & terminal: how the regulation of coal-fired power stations fails Australian communities p24 & Appendix 1. Retrieved from https://www.envirojustice.org.au/sites/default/files/files/EJA_CoalHealth_final.pdf

12. Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2017/1442 of 31 July 2017 establishing best available techniques (BAT) conclusions, under Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, for large combustion plants. (2017). Official Journal of the European Union, L212/1. Retrieved from https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32017D1442&from=EN

13. Teague B, Catford J & Roper A (2016). Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry report 2015/2016 volume III - health improvement p76. Retrieved from http://hazelwoodinquiry.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Hazelwood-Mine-Fire-Inquiry-2015-2016-Report-Volume-III-Health-Improvement.pdf

14. Sahu, R (2018). Recommended Retrofits for Loy Yang A, Loy Yang B, and Yallourn Power Plants, Attachment 1 to Environmental Justice Australia's submission to EPA Victoria on the brown-coal power station licence reviews, retrieved from http://envirojustice.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/EJA-submission-to-EPA-power-station-licence-review-February-2018.pdf

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    If you have any questions or if you're an organisation that would like to sign the letter please email harry@healthyfutures.net.au

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    In November 2017 the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPAV) commenced a review of the licences of Victoria's coal-fired power stations: Yallourn (owned by Energy Australia), Loy Yang A (owned by AGL) and Loy Yang B (now owned by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited)

    The EPA reviews the licences of the power stations periodically (at their discretion) taking into account updates in science, environmental conditions and community standards to prevent adverse effects of the power stations on the environment.

    This particular review was unique in that this time the EPA called for the community to give input into the review process and outcomes. There were three parts to this community engagement: 

    Part 1: invitation for written submissions from community and environment groups

    Part 2: a survey asking three questions: 

    1. Do you have any comments on this list of pollutants, including any additional pollutants that should require monitoring?
    2. How do you think monitoring information should be made available to the public?
    3. What other licensing issues do you think EPA should consider, and ask the power stations to respond to as part of this review process?

    This survey received 477 responses from community and environment groups 

    Part 3: a "section 20B conference" (referring to section 20B of the 1970 Environment Protection Act) in August 2018: this involved community groups attending a day length seminar to discuss their desired outcomes from the power station licence review. Power station representatives from the three respective power stations were present to talk with the community groups. This conference was facilitated by the EPA. Community groups were told at the conference that they would be made aware of the licence review outcomes in approximately three months. We are still awaiting results of this today...