Marked improvement in pollution emission figures

New National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) data recorded in 2019-2020 and released earlier in April, shows toxic air emissions from the state’s five coal-fired power stations, including Vales Point, fell 15 percent in the year to June 2020.

“The 15 percent reduction in emissions is very welcome, but these facilities are still a major source of dangerous airborne toxins,” says Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive. Chris Gambian.

“These include oxides of nitrogen and sulphur and fine particles, which all cause serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Climate pollution from NSW coal power stations also fell by 4.1 million tonnes of CO2 in the reporting period, and according to the Nature Conservation Council, that’s equivalent to replacing 1.3 million petrol cars with electric vehicles, about a third of the NSW passenger vehicle fleet.

Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) says Delta Electricity reported a decrease in coarse particle emissions (PM10) and fine particle emissions (PM2.5) at Vales Point Power Station.

The EJA said given that the 2018-2019 NPI data revealed alarming increases in PM10 and PM2.5 emissions at Vales Point (121 percent and 181 percent respectively), the recent decrease in emissions supported the basis for the legal complaint made by EJA to the NSW Environment Protection Authority in April 2020.

The complaint alleged that Delta Electricity breached its licence conditions by failing to operate and / or maintain plant and equipment at Vales Point in a proper and efficient manner.

An EPA investigation is underway and the EJA is expecting to be advised of the outcome in April.

“All these toxic emissions have a huge impact on people’s health so these coal fired power stations must clean up their operations and shut as soon as possible,” Gambian said.

“The total health impact of this industry on families is colossal, especially on the Central Coast, in the Hunter and across western Sydney, where many of these emissions end up.”

Spokesperson for local environmental group, Future Sooner, Will Belford, said despite the reported decreases it was still “dirty business as usual” at Vales Point.

“The NPI data is a timely reminder of the harm to health that power stations like Vales Point do, which is all too often hidden from view,” said Future Sooner spokesperson, Will Belford.

“We can’t see these pollutants but we’re breathing them.”

“The NPI data shows that Vales Point Power Station emitted more than 38,000 tonnes of toxic air pollutants, including 18,000 tonnes of oxides of nitrogen, 20,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide, 86 tonnes of large particles and 31 tonnes of small particles.

“All these pollutants have serious negative impacts on human health,” Belford said.

“Even though NOx emissions from Vales Point dropped slightly, Vales Point is still pumping this dangerous gas out at unacceptable levels.

“That’s why we’re asking the Environment Protection Authority to set the same nitrogen oxide emissions limits for Vales Point as it does for other power stations,” Belford said.

He said Future Sooner was still waiting to hear how the EPA would conduct public consultation on Vales Point’s pollution exemption.

“The EPA has granted Vales Point two five-year exemptions from the standard and is currently considering the company’s application to continue over polluting for another five years,” Belford said.

Delta Electricity was invited to comment but a response was not received in time for publication, however, information on the company website says that Vales Point NOx emissions are similar to other NSW power generators and claims that Vales Point has the highest emissions are untrue and discredited by actual data.

Delta’s environmental data is posted on its website every month.

The website says that limits for emissions such as oxides of nitrogen have already been tightened as part of the renewal in July 2020 of Delta’s Environmental Protection Licence, after considerable input from the community and other groups.

Delta continues to comply with these reduced limits and further work will be undertaken in upcoming maintenance outages to replace burner tips which will result in even lower NOx emissions, it said on the website.

Sue Murray