PM2.5 emissions have increased by almost 500 percent

Tip trucks (right) depositing coal on one of the outdoor mounds at Vales Point power stationTip trucks (right) depositing coal on one of the outdoor mounds at Vales Point power station

Emissions of PM2.5, the fine particle pollution that causes the greatest damage to lungs, from Vales Point Power Station, have increased from 12,000kg to 70,000kg in the past 12 months, according to the latest National Pollution Inventory (NPI).

“The question is, what are they burning or are they just wildly trying to rectify the larger readings from 10 years ago, because they are now under scrutiny from the public and organisations like Environmental Justice Australia (EJA),” said Mr Mike Campbell of the Community Environment Network. “It goes to show that the industry self-recording these outputs to the NPI is patently ridiculous,” Mr Campbell said.

“The EPA should show more fortitude in examining these figures and respond to public pressure to bring greater transparency to the process,” he said. “The Central Coast/ Lake Macquarie region has only one public based monitor at Wyong Racecourse. “The power station has its own exclusive monitors which EPA access. “The Hunter region has about twelve. “The EPA has been asked to pressure authorities to place at least another public monitor specifically around the Wyee area. “If authorities continue to ignore analysing or mapping public health issues that may be affected by this continuous pollution then they are simply letting down the whole idea of health and best practice over the long term.” EJA’s analysis of this year’s NPI data showed power stations had maintained high levels of toxic pollution, according to EJA researcher, Dr James Whelan. “These toxic industries have not moved to control and reduce air pollution, despite relevant technologies being readily available, in fact, obligatory, in many other countries.

“This year’s NPI confirms the urgent need for stronger national air pollution laws and a strong national Environmental Protection Authority to control toxic air pollution,” Dr Whelan said. “The NPI is self-reported by industry and not audited, but it is Australia’s most comprehensive source of air pollution data,” he said. The Federal Government publishes the NPI annually from information supplied by various industries, compiled by the states and territories. According to EJA, Vales Point appears to have inaccurately reported its toxic emissions.

“Last year, EJA expressed concern to the head of the NSW EPA when the operators of Vales Point reported PM2.5 emissions dramatically lower than in previous years,” Dr Whelan said. In this year’s NPI, the Vales Point power station estimates its PM2.5 emissions have increased by almost 500 percent. “EJA will pursue this concerning matter with the NSW EPA,” Mr Whelan said. Emissions of mercury from the state’s five power stations have dropped by 45% to 150kg, half the total reported three years ago. Wyong Regional Chronicle has asked the EPA and Delta Electricity to comment on the latest NPI figures and we will report their responses in a future edition.

Source: Media release, Apr 5 Mike Campbell, Community Environment Network Media release, Apr 3 Josh Meadows, Environmental Justice Australia