Close toxic Hazelwood Power Station: protest at #Springst
Climate Action Moreland has had a long involvement in the campaign to shut down the Hazelwood Coal power station. This has on occasion entailed working or lobbying with our local MPs. This Thursday 16 April a protest has been called for the steps of Parliament House at 12.30pm to 1.30pm. It was called jointly by Green MPs Adam Bandt the Federal member for Melbourne and Ellen Sandell, the State member for Melbourne. See the Facebook event page registration.
Ms Sandell is due to make a statement in State Parliament on Thursday, calling on the Labor government to replace Hazelwood with clean energy and to support a community-led transition plan for mine rehabilitation and job creation.
We also call on the Premier Dan Andrews and the Labor Government and especially our local Labor MPs that represent Moreland – Jane Garrett (Brunswick), Lizzie Blandthorn (Pascoe Vale) and Frank McGuire (Broadmeadows) – to heed the grassroots campaign to close down Hazelwood.
It is way past time. Read more below on the amount of pollution and impact on health from Hazelwood. David Spratt at Climate Code Red has also detailed past promises by Labor for a phased closure of Hazelwood in his article: Hazelwood: Australia’s dirtiest power station in nation with the world’s dirtiest power industry.
Hazelwood Power station is long past it’s use by date.
In 1992 the State Electricity Commission of Victoria listed the power stationm for closure in 2005 (see our Brief History of Hazelwood Power Station), but instead the Bracks Government extended the licence of the associated coal mine for 31 years which allowed the power station to continue it’s operation. Ten years after when it should have been closed down, the Victorian government is still fiddling with indecision while CO2 emissions continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.
Hazelwood Power Station is owned by GDF Suez Australian Energy (70 per cent) and Mitsui (30 Per cent). GDF Suez Australian Energy, a subsidiary of French company GDF Suez. The company is number 5 in the top ten carbon polluters in Australia as recently reported on by the Australian Conservation Foundation report: Australia’s top 10 climate polluters (PDF).
Hazelwood is now one of the most polluting power stations, not only in Australia but in the industrial world, according to the OECD, both in regard to the toxic cocktail of chemicals it daily emits into the air and water, and the carbon emissions intensity it spews into the air of the La Trobe Valley. Carbon emissions are currently 15.5 MT CO2e per year, with carbon intensity of 1.4 Tonnes CO2/MWh. Just this one facility produces about 15 per cent of Victoria’s total carbon emissions. The power station is also a major consumer of water: 1.31 megalitres of water is consumed per gigawatt hour of power generated.
Hazelwood leads the list as the most polluting and least efficient power station:
Do we really need the energy from Hazelwood?
State and Federal Governments should be negotiating closure of Coal fired plants. “(About) 75 per cent of the existing thermal plant has passed its useful life,” AGL Energy economists said.
The National electricity market (Qld, NSW, Vic, SA, Tas) is currently at surplus capacity between 7,650 megawatts and 8,950 megawatts. There are at least 2000 MW of excess capacity just in Victoria.
The Hazelwood coal fired power station in the LaTrobe Valley, originally slated for closure in 2005, was listed as the least carbon efficient power station in the OECD. It has 1600MW capacity but is literally just idling.
The Anglesea 150MW Power station originally supplied about half the energy for the ALCOA Port Henry aluminium smelter that has now closed. The Napthine Government allowed power from this plant to be sold into the NEM, even though the NEM doesn’t really need it as it is overcapacity.
Both these coal fired power stations produce high levels of pollutants including dioxin, sulphur dioxide and particulates which have an impact on population health in nearby areas and therefore a large social cost. They could be closed tomorrow with no impact on energy security. The reason the owners do not want to close is the expense: somewhere in the region of $100 million to $300 million for decommissioning and mine rehabilitation.
The National Pollution Inventory details some of the pollutants from Hazelwood. Here is the 2013-2014 Hazelwood data that has been collected:
|Emissions for Hazelwood 2013-2014. Source: National Pollution Inventory Data|
|Substance||Air Total (kg)||Water (kg)||Total (kg)|
|Arsenic & compounds||50.16||24.24||74.40|
|Beryllium & compounds||28.43||6.95||35.38|
|Boron & compounds||103,669.00||3,182.21||106,851.21|
|Cadmium & compounds||41.80||0.70||42.50|
|Chlorine & compounds||290.90||290.90|
|Chromium (III) compounds||150.49||6.95||157.44|
|Chromium (VI) compounds||102.00||2.09||104.09|
|Copper & compounds||103.67||141.87||245.54|
|Lead & compounds||135.44||6.95||142.39|
|Manganese & compounds||3,511.00||162.99||3,673.99|
|Mercury & compounds||434.74||0.70||435.44|
|Nickel & compounds||568.51||27.87||596.38|
|Oxides of Nitrogen||25,306,853.00||25,306,853.00|
|Particulate Matter 10.0 um||4,240,965.00||4,240,965.00|
|Particulate Matter 2.5 um||597,786.00||597,786.00|
|Polychlorinated dioxins and furans (TEQ)||0.00||0.00|
|Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (B[a]Peq)||17.28||17.28|
|Total Volatile Organic Compounds||343,139.06||343,139.06|
|Xylenes (individual or mixed isomers)||70.02||70.02|
|Zinc and compounds||1,237.34||90.25||1,327.59|
That is an awful lot of chemicals including over 4 million kg of 10 um particulates, and 600,000 kg of 2.5 um particulates, 343,139 kg volatile organic compounds. Sulphur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, Lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, none of it good for our health.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) estimated the costs of health damages associated with coal combustion for electricity in Australia amount to $2.6 billion per annum. It is a social cost that falls particularly heavily on communities like Morwell in the La Trobe Valley, or in the Hunter Valley with substantial coal mining and coal fired electricity generation, but every tax payer bears some of this expense through the public health system. It is, in effect, a $2.6 billion subsidy for the coal industry, on top of approximately $10 billion in Federal Government subsidies to the fossil fuel mining industry every year. Read the report: Coal and Health in the Hunter: Lessons from one valley for the world
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) produced this video a couple of years ago on the health costs of coal in Australia:
Just for the Hunter Valley the health damage was estimated at $680 million per annum, with another $15-$66 billion in social costs from Hunter Valley coal producing greenhouse gas emissions when burnt.
These are large sums that are ultimately born by the public through pollution impacting population health and long term climate change. When these costs are taken into account, coal is no longer a cheap form of energy.
It is definitely time to close Hazelwood and start phasing out the other aging, inefficient and polluting coal power stations in Australia and transitioning to renewable energy.