The NSW Environment Protection Agency has confirmed that it is required to review the Environmental Protection Licence (EPL) of the Vales Point Power Station by December 24.
According to Environmental Justice Australia, the review includes the licence limits for stack emissions. In a written statement, the EPA said that under the Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) Act 1997, it must review each environment protection licence at least once every five years. “Details of all environment protection licences are available on the EPA’s Public Register, and the forthcoming review of the licence will be notified via the EPA’s website,” the statement said.
“The community has the opportunity to actively contribute to the process of reviewing conditions contained in environment protection licences. “The EPA welcomes submissions regarding licences from the public at any time, not just at the time that they are being reviewed in accordance with the POEO Act.” “The EPA will notify stakeholders that submissions can be made one month prior to the conclusion of the review,” said Dr James Wheelan from Environmental Justice Australia.
“That coincides with the Christmas/summer break for most people,” Wheelan said. “I wrote to the Chief Regulator, Mark Gifford, and Anissa Levy, CEO of the EPA, requesting that the submission period be extended and that the EPA commit to an appropriate level of community engagement,” he said. “This is an important community health issue that should not be determined without community involvement. “Central Coast residents have a rare opportunity to improve community health and reduce air pollution. “The power station could reduce its toxic air pollution by 85 per cent or more.
”The Vales Point power station emitted 21 million kilograms of oxides of nitrogen and 32 million kilograms of sulphur dioxide in 2017.
“Delta has not installed pollution control equipment in the last decade to control these toxic emissions. “Sulfur dioxide increases the rate and severity of asthma. “In communities within 200km of power stations, SO2 can reduce infant birth weight and increase cardiovascular and respiratory mortality and hospital admissions. “Oxides of nitrogen worsen allergies and asthma and reduce lung function, even at low concentrations.
“The timing of the licence review minimises the opportunity for community involvement, with the Vales Point review concluding on Christmas Eve. “EJA have requested that the EPA extend the licence review to February 28 and actively engage the community by inviting submissions and convening community workshops. “A report commissioned by Delta Electricity earlier this year concluded that the company could reduce toxic emissions from its Vales Point power station by 85 per cent by installing Selective Catalytic Reduction. “Power stations are compelled to install this emission control technology in the United States, Europe and Japan.
“Power stations in other parts of the world are required to limit their NOx emissions to less than 100 micrograms per cubic metre. “But the Vales Point power station is allowed to emit up to 15 times this concentration. “We urge the NSW Government to strengthen licence conditions for the power station, requiring it to install the best available emission control equipment,” said Dr Whelan. “During a public forum in Wyong in 2017, the EPA confirmed the licence was based on ‘readily available technology’ when the power station was commissioned and doesn’t require the best available technology. “EJA will encourage and support community members to contribute to the licence review.”
Source: Media statement, Sep 14 EPA Media Media release, Sep 17 James Wheelan, Environmental Justice Australia Jackie Pearson, journalist