The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is asking for our opinion on air pollution levels – we mustn’t miss this opportunity to stop one of NSW’s dirtiest coal-burning power stations from continuing to exceed air pollution laws.
Vales Point Power Station on NSW’s Central Coast has had a special exemption in place for the last decade that has allowed owners Delta Electricity to emit close to twice as much toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) than emission limits under the Clean Air Act. The EPA is now considering whether to extend that exemption for a further 5 years and is asking what the public thinks - but submissions are only open until next Wednesday November 10. Now's our chance to speak up.
Pollution from the five coal-burning power stations in NSW are responsible for 17% of the PM2.5 we breathe in the Greater Metropolitan Region (which extends from the Hunter down to the Illawarra and is mostly due to precursor NOx) and leads to 450 low-weight births, 7,582 childhood asthma days and 477 premature deaths in NSW every year.
As a health professional or concerned community member, this is a great opportunity for you to voice your opposition to unfettered air pollution. Could you join us in making a submission to the EPA on Delta Electricity’s application to exceed emission levels?
We’re joining with Nature Conservation Council and DEA on a briefing this Wednesday 3 November at 5:30pm to help prepare your submission - join with others involved in the campaign to find out what comes next here.
The submission process is a simple survey (or an email if you prefer), only taking a few minutes to complete, and essentially asks these main questions from the public:
- The survey begins by asking if you support the application. We suggest you choose ‘strongly oppose’
- It then asks if you have any specific comments in relation to Delta Electricity’s Application to exceed air pollution levels. Here are some key points you could make:
- I am a (professional/student/community member) and I am concerned about air pollution from coal power stations because….
- Vales Point is one of the state’s biggest polluters and allowing nitrogen oxides (NOx) levels beyond the Clean Air Regulation is unacceptable.
- NOx pollution contributes to numerous health problems, with particularly severe impacts on the respiratory system, particularly affecting children, the elderly and people with chronic disease.
NOx also contributes to secondary particle pollution over a very large area leading to even greater health impacts and Vales Point Power Station has failed to assess these as required by the EP
3. The survey then asks what your expectations are regarding the air quality controls and limits required at Vales Point Power Station. Points you could make:
- Vales Point should not be allowed to pollute more than under NSW law
- I want EPA to reject the extension application
I want EPA to require Delta Electricity to implement greater pollution controls.
4. Finally, you are asked your name and location and - voila! – you have now played a significant role in the process to reduce air pollution in NSW!
Submissions will be accepted until November 10. If you proceed with the submission, we’d love it if you could please let us know. Also if you have any questions, we’d be happy to answer them so please get in touch.
Want to go further? Here are some more technical points to consider adding to your submission:
- Power stations in NSW are already licenced to emit toxic air pollution at concentrations far greater than power stations in other jurisdictions and should require greater pollution restrictions, not fewer.
- The Director of health protection at NSW Health, Dr. Richard Broome, found in 2020 that power stations were the third-largest contributor to PM2.5 in the Greater Metropolitan Region after wood heaters and motor vehicles, with the impact evenly spread across the entire region, at a health cost of $2.4 billion.
- Rejecting the exemption application would have significant health benefits. An Australian Child Health and Air Pollution Study found significant reductions in lung function and increased asthma at levels lower than the pollution levels recorded around Vales Point, which also exceed World Health Organisation Guidelines.
- A 2018 study in Atmosphere found that reducing power stations’ nitrogen dioxide emissions would “significantly improve” ozone concentrations in North-West Sydney, and power stations affect ozone concentrations across the Newcastle, Sydney and Illawarra regions (ie. Not just directly around Vales point).
- Delta Electricity has already failed to comply with the assessment requirements set out in the EPA’s letter from March 2021, which required an assessment of primary and secondary pollution across the Greater Metropolitan Region (Delta Electricity just included the area directly). No grant of an exemption to Delta Electricity’s already weak limits should be allowed.
- Vales Point could install low NOx burners that would halve the amount of NOx it emits. This technology is already in use at the nearby Eraring coal power station.
You can also check out EPA’s Fact sheet for more information on the process: