Our Work Air Pollution Media release: Doctors warn extending the life of Vales Point coal-fired power station will have a human cost, from Lake Macquarie to Sydney

Media release: Doctors warn extending the life of Vales Point coal-fired power station will have a human cost, from Lake Macquarie to Sydney

Doctors have today slammed the Morrison government’s proposed $11m grant to Vales Point coal-fired power station, as the money to prolong the life of this ageing coal fired-power station is likely to exacerbate harmful pollution reaching the large population centre of Sydney, especially in summer when north easterly winds are common. 

Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia spokesperson and air pollution expert Dr Ben Ewald says, “Recent estimates show that this power station causes about 46 premature deaths each year, as well as 40 babies born underweight, and 59 new cases of diabetes. 

“Extending the life or increasing the workload of Vales Point power station, which was built in 1978 and is slated to close in 2029, will expose the community to further deaths and illness for years into the future.

“Coal-fired power stations emit pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, leading to the formation of fine particle air pollution, which travels long distances, affecting people in the Central Coast and Sydney.

“The power station does not have sulphur dioxide scrubbers which are a pollution control technology required at power stations in most advanced countries around the world. 

“Extending the life of this old power station should be considered only if it is required to install modern pollution controls with SO2 scrubbers. 

“It is hard to see, though, how the proposed gift of $11m to a private company to replace an old turbine is of any value to Australia. 

“It’s essential we prioritise public health above the private profits of vested interests.” 

 Media Contacts 

To interview Dr Ben Ewald and  Dr Graeme McLeay,  please contact Media and Communications Coordinator Carmela Ferraro on 0410 703 074

Background for Editors 

Trevor St Baker, an owner of Vales Point, has made large donations to political parties over the years: 2019 https://transparency.aec.gov.au/AnnualDonor/ReturnDetail?returnId=49338 2018 https://transparency.aec.gov.au/AnnualDonor/ReturnDetail?returnId=42609 

 St Baker bought Vales Point coal fired power station for $1m which is now valued at over 700 million. 

 The NSW government is preparing to give the owners of the plant $11m for an “upgrade” which refers to the turbines and associated equipment. 

 About DEA 

DEA is an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment.

We are supported by a Scientific Advisory Committee of distinguished health experts: Prof Stephen Boyden AM, Prof Emeritus Chris Burrell AO, Prof Colin Butler, Prof Peter Doherty AC, Prof Michael Kidd AM, Prof David de Kretser AC, Prof Stephen Leeder AO, Prof Ian Lowe AO, Prof Robyn McDermott, Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof Peter Newman AO, Prof Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof Lawrie Powell AC, Prof Fiona Stanley AC, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Dr Norman Swan