Inclusion of a grant in the federal budget for Vales Point power station is an outrageous misuse of public funds, says Doctors for the Environment Australia’s spokesperson Dr Ben Ewald. Rather than a grant, pollution fees for this NSW power station would be more appropriate given the risks it poses to health.
Dr Ewald says that prolonging the life of this highly polluting coal fired-power station will expose large numbers of people —from communities in the central coast to the large population centres of Sydney—to harmful air pollution.
“Recent estimates show that Vales Point is associated with 46 premature deaths each year,” says Dr Ewald.
“Air pollution from burning coal is known to cause heart and lung disease, and to damage lung growth in children.
“The power station is highly polluting and highly profitable, and does not have sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide scrubbers which are a pollution control technology required of power stations in other countries.
“It reaches the end of its engineering life in 2028, when the people of the Lake Macquarie and Central Coast regions should finally be free of its effects.
The Federal Government is providing a grant of $8.7 million to extend the life of Vales Point.
“With this grant money, this privately owned power station will modernise some turbines which will result in it being worked harder for longer, increasing the overall pollution burden.
“An $8.7 million increase in pollution fees would be more appropriate.
“Now that there are sources of electricity it makes no sense to drag out the transition process. The Hunter would have more and better jobs from supporting the renewable energy industries.
“The pollution from Vales Point also contributes to the climate emergency.
“Coal (and gas) exacerbates climate change which brings drought, extreme heat, coral bleaching, drying rivers, and bushfires like we experienced last summer.
“As doctors, we are disappointed that the budget contains hardly any measures to prevent health impacts from bushfire disasters.
“There is $30 million for a royal commission but nothing about preventing the public health impacts of smoke exposure. Community education is urgently needed on how vulnerable people should protect themselves during the next bushfire smoke emergency.”
Media contact Media and Communications Coordinator Carmela Ferraro-0410 703 074
Coal’s Toll on Health fact Sheet