News & Media Media Releases Doctors Lament The Health Costs of HRL Power Station Approval

Doctors Lament The Health Costs of HRL Power Station Approval

29th March 2012

Doctors for the Environment Australia today expressed disappointment at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s decision to approve the 600 MW HRL Dual Gas coal fired power station.

The VCAT decision overturns a previous Environment Protection Authority ruling that the power station should only go ahead at half the size. Doctors for the Environment had challenged the partial approval on health grounds, asserting that the power station should
not be approved at all due to both direct health consequences of mining and burning coal and due to the health effects of climate change, to which the coal power station would contribute.

Mining and burning coal has negative consequences on human health including contributing to heart attacks, lung diseases including asthma, and cancer. It is also a major contributor to climate change, which is acknowledged to be the greatest threat to global health of this century.” said Dr Eugenie Kayak, Victorian convenor of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

DEA is pleased that VCAT has acknowledged DEA’s right to challenge this decision on human health grounds. However, VCAT has not applied Victoria’s laws in such a way as to protect human health and long term well being from another dangerous coal fired power station.” Dr Kayak said.

Dr Kayak acknowledged that it was positive that VCAT had upheld additional restrictions on sulphur dioxide emissions from the plant that were required by the EPA after the initial consultation with community groups including DEA.

Brown coal is high in sulphur which is released as sulphur dioxide when the coal is burned. Sulphur dioxide can trigger asthma attacks and worsen chronic lung problems.  We are glad that the EPA and VCAT have upheld these conditions that will go part of the way to decreasing the impacts of this power station on local people’s health. As a result, we would expect less episodes of ill health, like asthma attacks, than if the plant was built as the company originally proposed.

It remains highly disappointing that the Victorian State Government supports this proposal through a $50 million grant. The State Government must accept responsibility for the poor health that it’s pro-fossil fuel policies will cause.

For comment:
Dr Eugenie Kayak 0419 685 574